It was Kiwis’ day out. On a day when Ben Stokes – born in New Zealand, playing international cricket for England – single-handedly won the second Ashes Test from a seemingly hopeless position for England, another Kiwi was making her mark in the second-last day of the league stage of the final edition of Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL).
Rachel Priest hasn't played international cricket for over two years. She has fallen out of favour with the New Zealand selectors. To make matters worse, she didn’t have the best of starts to this WCSL. However, the right-hander has certainly turned her form around late in the season - and it has been nothing short of incredible.
Priest has formed a destructive pairing with Smriti Mandhana at the top for Storm. The latter fell early on Sunday, but the Kiwi ensured that Mandhana’s absence didn’t hurt Storm. She was off the blocks pretty quickly - Storm were 47 for 1 at the end of the power play – 40 of those belonged to Priest, off just 27 balls.
Priest brought up her fifty in 35 balls, hitting a boundary off Amy Gordon to get to the landmark. At the other end, Heather Knight was struggling to get going. Although she was amassing dot balls, she did well to return the strike to Priest.
After 11 overs, Storm were 83 for 1. In the next three overs, they scored 32 - 24 of which were Priest’s. At that point she seemed poised to notch up her second triple-figure score in the competition. However, soon after, Dane van Niekerk, the leg-spinner, got her only scalp. Priest had to walk back for 89 runs that took 55 balls. The innings featured ten fours and six sixes.
It was then that another successful pair of Knight and Fran Wilson joined forces. They added 38 runs in 26 balls, giving impetus to the final overs for Storm. Knight brought up yet another fifty, her third this edition before she fell.
For Stars, although van Niekerk and Laura Marsh picked up two wickets apiece, there was nothing to write home about.
Surrey Stars’ reply was never a challenging one. In an era of emails, they seemed to be stuck in the time of sending messages through pigeons.
Yes, losing an early wicket never helps. They lost an out-of-form Lizelle Lee as early as the second over, falling to Freya Davies. It was a wicket-maiden. To make matters worse, van Niekerk followed suit soon and at the end of the power play,Stars were stuttering at 26 for 2.
All rested on the shoulders of Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver. Again.
A 44-run partnership is all that the duo could stitch. Taylor looked good during her stay yet again, as she has do a number of times in this season. She made 34 in 29 balls with four ground-hits to the fence, which was the top score in the innings.
After Taylor fell, Stars lost their last eight wickets for just 32 runs. Sonia Odedra was the star with the ball, finishing with figures of 4-25 in three overs. She was unlucky to not get a chance to aim for the five-wicket haul as Naomi Dattani hastened the end, picking up two wickets to wrap up the innings.
Needless to say, Ben Stokes was the Player of the Match in that Ashes Test; Rachel Priest was the Player of this Match in this WCSL game. Kiwis’ day out, for sure.
Brief Scores: Western Storm 171/4 in 20 overs (Rachel Priest 89, Heather Knight 51) beat Surrey Stars 94/10 in 17.5 overs (Sarah Taylor 34; Sonia Odedra 4/25, Naomi Dattani 2/10) by 77 runs.