The opening batters of Southern Vipers put on 109. All the batters of Surrey Stars could together muster only 89. Those numbers tell a story of their own.
Vipers annihilated Stars by a massive margin of 89-runs at the Arundel Castle Cricket Club Ground in match 16 of the final edition of the Women’s Cricket Super League on Sunday (August 18).
The coin fell in Stars’ favour. However, they inserted the opposition in. Suzie Bates and Danille Wyatt, Vipers’ openers, began cautiously. At a venue, where the crowd was sparse, it seemed as if the duo was out there for a leisurely Sunday afternoon hit out. When the score after the mandatory power play reads 29 for no loss, you can think nothing but that.
Seasoned marathon runners have a method. They cover the initial laps at a slower pace, increasing speed as they go on. The method is to conserve energy at the start for the eventual burst to be more energetic and a striking one.
Wyatt is no marathon runner. But the way her innings gathered pace, it had the semblance of a marathon runner. A couple of overs after the field restrictions ended, she had moved on to 32 off 25 balls, before getting to her half century in just 32 balls. She was finding the boundary at will. Her blitz allowed Bates at the other end to go on steadily.
When the duo crossed the triple-figure mark, it was just the second hundred-run opening stand, and the fourth century partnership overall this season. It was also the first ever 100-run partnership against Stars – their bowling attack had been brutally taken apart for the very first time. However, Amy Gordon got rid of Bates to give Stars an opening. The Kiwi batter had stumbled to 39 off 46 balls. At that time Wyatt was on 65 off 44.
With captain Tammy Beaumont for company, Wyatt hogged much of the strike. Beaumont was happy to let the opening batter take strike and belt the bowlers into submission. With three overs left, Wyatt was on 86 off 53. At that point most would have wondered if she had enough time to get to a ton.
The next over was entrusted to Laura Marsh, Stars’ wily off-spinner.
The first three balls were enough for Wyatt to complete her milestone. It was a fuller ball – the third one of the over – to which she shimmied down the track and hit it over the bowler’s head. Once the route of the ball was decided, Wyatt had her hands aloft. Some fist pumps followed. The sparse crowd, that was in to watch a cricket match in their backyard in Arundel, applauded. It was the first ton by an England player in the history of the competition. And what a time to get there.
Vipers were 156 for 1 after 18 overs. Now for a big finish.
However, Natalie Sciver soon sent back Wyatt for a 60-ball 110 with nine fours and seven sixes to her name – the second-fastest WCSL ton. The second wicket stand for Vipers added 60 in just 24 balls. Sciver’s strike would thus minimise damage for the defending champions.
Dane van Niekerk then took the opportunity to bowl the final over and pick up a hat-trick – the second in this year’s WCSL. Stafanie Taylor (4), Maia Bouchier (0) and Marie Kelly (0) were her victims as Vipers finished on 178 for 5 – four wickets falling in the last two overs for 22 runs.
In reply, Stars seemed overawed by the target in front of them. After hitting a couple of fours off Tash Farrant, Bryony Smith (8-ball 13) was cleaned by the left-arm seamer and that was the start of the procession. Soon her opening partner Lizelle Lee (9) was also dismissed.
When a side loses three wickets inside the powerplay, that often means that the writing is on the wall. Farrant and Fi Morris were the partners-in-crime. Even as van Niekerk (6) fell, Sarah Taylor progressed, looking to make a match out of it. But when on 19, she charged down the pitch to Stafanie Taylor, and was stumped by Beaumont. Her 20-ball innings had ended and with that Stars’ last hopes.
Taylor added a couple more wickets to her kitty as she finished with 3 for 11 in three overs. Only four Stars batters got into double figures and their scorecard painted a sorry picture. They were eventually bowled out for just 89, losing the clash by a mammoth margin.
Brief Scores: Southern Vipers 178/5 in 20 overs (Dannielle Wyatt 110; Dane van Niekerk 3-31) beat Surrey Stars 89 all out in 16.4 overs (Stafanie Taylor 3-11) by 89 runs.