Hayley Matthews notched up her maiden WCSL fifty. ©Getty Images
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Hayley Matthews hit a 39-ball 54 to lead Loughborough Lightning to their first win in the 2019 edition of the Women’s Cricket Super League against Yorkshire Diamonds at Headingly in Leeds on Sunday (August 11). It was a comprehensive nine-wicket win with 40 balls to spare – something of a drubbing. In truth, Diamonds never really looked to be in the contest.

Needing 122 to win Lightning benefited from some wayward bowling early on and controlled the power play. Katie George’s first ball went down the leg side for five wides and even Alyssa Healy behind the stumps could not stop it going to the boundary. Things did not get better for the bowling team after that.

In contrast, Lightning’s bowlers gave little away in the first four overs, but when their batters came out, it seemed there was always at least one ball an over that Amy Jones and Matthews could guide to the boundary.

Helen Fenby, the leg-spinner, who returned figures of 4 for 20 in Diamond’s first game against Surrey Stars was as guilty of most. With an unusual action, she struggled for control – her three overs would go for 30.

It was Linsey Smith, the former Lightning player, who made the only breakthrough for Diamonds as Jones was caught trying to go over cover by Lauren Winfield on the edge of the circle. She fell for a run-a-ball 12. At the other end Matthews was in her element as she hit Katie Levick for a straight six over mid-on.

If Diamonds were going to get another wicket it was against Chamari Atapattu who had struggled in her first two games. She was a slow starter again on Sunday. From her first 13 balls, the left-hander had only scored six runs. She soon got stuck into the spinners -Leigh Kasperek and then Fenby – to finish unbeaten on 40 from 29 balls.

It was Matthews though that played the innings of the day. Before today her highest WCSL score was 40 also against Diamonds at Arundel in 2017 when she was a Southern Vipers player.

There is always an expectation that your overseas player performs and with her first WCSL 50  and 1-25 with the ball Matthews did just that. With this performance, she has certainly cast aside any doubt and possibly any pressure that may have been mounting on her.

It was a funny odd innings from Diamonds who scored all their quick runs in the middle overs As Hollie Armitage and Alice Davidson-Richards gave the innings some momentum. In the power play and towards the back of the innings when the bat is proverbially thrown, Lightning bowled tight lines and starved the Diamonds batters of anything to go after.

In truth, it was always going to be difficult for the home side once Healy was bowled for five from 10 balls. She is a player that is relied upon by the teams she plays for to attack from the word go. Sarah Bryce opening the bowling kept the openers quiet in the opening over with the only run on the board a leg bye.

With Yorkshire 15 for 0 in three overs, it was Healy’s cue to attack and walking down the track to Matthews she missed a ball that was held back by the bowler and had to make the long walk back.

Lauren Winfield her opening partner was soon following her in the next over. Hollie Armatage had just hit Bryce for two well-struck fours and it looked as if Diamonds’ innings was underway. Winfield did not get forward to Bryce’s penultimate ball and the umpire could do little but give her out lbw for nine.

Jemimah Rodrigues joined Armatage in the fifth over and the pair managed to find the boundary consistently for the next four overs. Kirstie Gordon who usually makes an immediate impact, struggled with her first over, conceding nine runs. All of a sudden it seemed like Diamonds’ innings was up and running, but that feeling didn’t last too long!

In Gordon’s next over, Rodrigues chipped a delivery straight back to the bowler and she gratefully took the catch. The Indian had looked in good touch for her 20 which came from just 17 balls.

Soon enough, Diamonds were four down for 69. Armitage who was one of only four Diamond’s players to score at over a run a ball made room to cut Gordon only to miss a straight one and was bowled for 23.

Alice Davidson-Richards was the top scorer for Diamonds with 27 from 24 balls. Gordon was on course for superb figures but it was Davidson-Richards who took three fours from her final over. Just when Yorkshire needed Davidson-Richards to kick on she caught in the deep by Matthews who was having a great day.

Eventually Diamonds stuttered to 121 for 6 in their 20 overs – a total that was never going to be enough for their bowlers to defend.

Brief Scores: Yorkshire Diamonds 121/6 in 20 overs (Alice Davidson-Richards 27, Holly Armitage 23; Kirstie Gordon 2-27) lost to Loughborough Lightning 122/1 in 13.2 overs (Hayley Matthews 54*, Chamari Atapattu 40*) by nine wickets.