Match Preview: Lancashire Thunder vs Southern Vipers
Date: 06 August 2019
Venue: Aighburth Ground, Liverpool
The Women’s Cricket Super League kicks off on Tuesday (August 6) at Aigburth in Liverpool with a match between Lancashire Thunder and Southern Vipers. There is palpable excitement this time around as this is meant to be the fourth and final season of the WCSL. 2020 will see the start of ‘The Hundred’ – a new format that is meant to attract new fans and take over the the cricketing world.
The opening game of the WCSL season is match up between unpredictability and consistency. Lancashire Thunder, who twice finished at the bottom of the table before just missing out on Finals day in 2018, take on Southern Vipers, a team that reached the final twice in three seasons. Head to head record between these two teams currently reads 2-2. They have each won two matches so we can expect a close contest between these two sides when they face each other on Tuesday.
Over the previous three seasons of WCSL Lancashire Thunder’s performances have been dismal to say the least. Kate Cross will lead the side for first time in WCSL, taking over from Danielle Hazell, the former England off-spinner, who is now coaching Yorkshire Diamonds. There is certainly quality in this Thunder side – names such as Sophie Ecclestone, Harmanpreet Kaur, Cross, and Sophia Dunkley can win matches almost single-handedly – but not performing as a group has been their downfall. They will hope the inclusions of Sune Luus and Tahila McGrath provides much needed balance in the squad.
On the hand, the Southern Vipers squad looks strong and balanced on paper. The loss of Sophie Molineux would have hampered their plans a bit, but they have found an equally a good replacement in the form of Amanda-Jade Wellington, the leg-spinner. The other two foreign spots are occupied by Suzie Bates and Stafanie Taylor – both players who are hugely experienced at both the international level and in foreign T20 leagues.
The Vipers first target will be to finish the league stage in the top three as that’s what they achieved in 2016 and 2017 seasons. Tammy Beaumont takes over as captain from Bates and will hope to string some good performances together. Young Issy Wong is also an exciting prospect for the Vipers who bowls fast and has the batters jumping around.
After scoring a brilliant hundred in the second ODI against Australia in the recently concluded Ashes, Beaumont’s form faded off. She consistently got starts through the series, but failed to find any real rhythm in her batting, scratching through much of the series.
In T20 cricket, openers set the tone for the innings and Beaumont will be hoping that she can get her team off to some blistering starts alongside Bates at the top of the order. She is one of the most free flowing and attacking players on the international circuit at the moment and her methods have proved to be most effective in the shortest format. With the added responsibility of captaincy on her shoulders, it will be interesting to see how she approaches the tournament. She has said that she is excited about the opportunity to captain a side and will thereofre be looking to lead from the front and get her team off to a good start.
McGrath, the allrounder from Australia who was a bit of a left-field choice for Lancashire, comes into the WCSL on the back of some wonderful performances for Australia A against England Academy. She put up wonderful performances with both bat and ball to help Australia A whitewash the hosts through the one-day and T20 series. Her contributions were vital through the series. McGrath is a high quality top order batter who can also use the long handle. She doubles up as a useful medium pacer who swings the new ball and also bowls well with the older ball. The right-hander will be looking to learn from this experience and carry it into the Women’s Big Bash League season at home and also potentially the T20 World Cup as well. McGrath’s contributions will be crucial if Thunder are to put up a good show on the board.
It’s home match for Lancashire Thunder and they would love to start on a winning note. The pitch at Aigburth is generally batting friendly and therefore it is likely that the team winning the toss will opt to bowl first as chasing is an easier option. A high scoring match is expected.
Lancashire Thunder: Kate Cross (c), Alex Hartley, Sophie Ecclestone, Sophia Dunkley, Georgie Boyce, Emma Lamb, Danielle Collins, Alice Dyson, Ria Fackrell, Ellie Threlkeld, Eve Jones, Harmanpreet Kaur, Sune Luus, Tahlia McGrath.
Southern Vipers: Tammy Beaumont (c), Dani Wyatt, Tash Farrant, Suzie Bates, Stafanie Taylor, Amanda Wellington, Charlie Dean, Lauren Bell, Marie Kelly, Issy Wong, Fi Morris, Maia Bouchier, Carla Rudd, Paige Scholfield, Thea Brookes.