Season Preview – Western Strom

Season Preview – Western Strom

Western Storm were among the most competitive teams during the Kia Super League era, but that changed with the start of the regional competitions. There are many reasons for this, but they have never complained. Instead they have started to produce young players with plenty of potential. An eighth-place finish in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy was disappointing, but with four games wiped out due to the weather, finding any momentum would always be a struggle. Sixth place in the Charlotte Edwards Cup hinted at better results, but a lack of killer instinct cost them in games.  

With players given professional contracts, some decent players can progress further. It wasn’t that long ago that Lauren Filer was working for Tesco and last summer she made her England debut in an Ashes Test match. Filer is a bowler who generates pace, which she developed in the previous season. 

Dani Gibson was another Storm player who made her international debut in 2023. A hard-hitting batter and combative bowler, the all-rounder had been close to international honours and finally made her impact. By the end of the year, she had secured her first England central contract. 

Heather Knight, the England captain, may have limited availability during the season, but she adds quality to any middle-order and her knowledge as a leader will be missed.  

What might set this season apart is the exciting signing of Amada-Jade Wellington, the Australian leg-spinner. She is a bowler who would walk into most international teams, but her opportunities have been limited by the depth in the Aussie spin ranks. Wellington is a wicket-taking bowler who bamboozles most of the batters she faces and she is a more than capable batter. 

Another player who adds experience to the Storm setup is Fran Wilson. After a successful international career in which she won the World Cup in 2017, Wilson was Storm’s RHF Trophy leading run-scorer with 404 runs. Emma Corney was the second-highest scorer with 296 runs and showed good promise at the top of the order. Along with Alex Griffith they looked to be developing a good understanding as an opening partnership. 

Niamh Holland hasn’t yet translated her potential into runs, but like many in the Storm setup, it feels like a change in fortune isn’t too far away. She along with Katie Jones and Sophia Smale are players who have contributed to England’s Under 19s in the last couple of winters. They have shown good promise, and Smale, with her left-arm spin, was impressive in her breakthrough season in the Hundred, in 2022. 

Chloe Skelton will also be an essential part of Storm’s spin attack alongside Smale and Wellington and it always looks like she will take wickets in the 50-over format. She was Storm’s leading wicket-taker with 14 wickets. 

With Filer and Gibson will be unavailable for much of the season, the seam attack will likely rely on Mollie Robbins, Griffiths and Gemma Lane. It will be a difficult task, but Lane has shown encouraging signs that this could be her breakthrough season. 

Key Player 

Sophie Luff will be a crucial player for Western Storm. The Storm captain is a consistent run-scorer and if she can get among the runs, the Storm will have every chance of winning games. Luff is the sort of player that inspires those around her and will lead from the front. 

Player to watch  

Kate Jones broke into the Storm team last season and was recently part of the England under19 side that toured Sri Lanka. She looked like she could make an impact when given the opportunity. In the final game of that series, she was allowed to captain her country, and it bodes well that she has leadership qualities. She is a wicketkeeper who could develop into one of the best on the circuit. 

How will they fare 

It may be another difficult season for the Storm and they will be relying on the performances of some young players to deliver the goods. They do have some solid, experienced pros on their books and if they can find a way to win cricket matches, you never know. A semi-final spot in the Charlotte Edwards Cup might be their best opportunity. 

Opening fixture: Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy: 20 April 2024 v Sunrisers, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff 


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