Good players can’t be kept quiet for a long time. They always find a way to reverse their fortunes. Alyssa Healy finally lit up the 2019 edition of Women’s Cricket Super League with a blistering half-century to give Yorkshire Diamonds a four-wicket win over Lancashire Thunder at North Marine Road ground in Scarborough on Friday (August 23).
Despite the rapid start, Thunder managed to drag the game into the penultimate over. Once again, it was the turn of Jemimah Rodrigues, Diamonds’ 18-year-old sensation, to deliver in a crunch situation. She remained unbeaten on 43 off just 31 balls to steer her team home.
Chasing 165, Diamonds got off to a brisk start as Lauren Winfield and Healy found the boundary consistently. It was the latter who did most of the scoring, as the hosts raced to 56 for no loss within the power play. Healy, at that point, had smashed nine boundaries on her way to a 22-ball 40. She took as special liking to Kate Cross collecting 20 runs off just nine balls against her.
Six deliveries later, Healy had notched up her maiden WCSL half-century, courtesy her tenth boundary of the innings – this one off Australia teammate, Tahlia McGrath. The signs were ominous for Thunder. None of their bowlers were able to pull back the scoring rate as Healy continued to treat each new arrival with disdain. Sune Luus’ only over of the innings went for 21 runs as Diamonds raced to 100 in nine overs, and looked well on course for an easy victory.
With their backs to the wall, Cross turned to Sophie Ecclestone – Thunder’s highest wicket-taker in the competition – and she responded by taking not one, but two wickets in the tenth over. First, she removed Healy for 77 off 38 balls – a knock that included 12 fours and three sixes – and then got Winfield for 16. Soon, Hollie Armitage departed courtesy a run-out, and suddenly Thunder came roaring back.
Having suffered a mini collapse, losing three for two, panic quickly spread through Diamonds’ inexperienced line-up. Cordelia Griffith and Bess Heath were dismissed within the space of an over, and the hosts had crashed to 115 for 5. It suddenly seemed like they were going to find a way to lose another one of their games.
However, Rodrigues kept her calm, and in the company of Alice Davidson-Richards, made sure Diamonds stayed on track for their third victory of the season. By the time Davidson-Richardson was dismissed by Cross in the 17th over, Diamonds were left needing 16 runs off 19 balls.
Ecclestone bowled a tight 18th over, conceding only three runs, and suddenly Diamonds needed more than a run-a-ball for victory: 13 off 12 balls.
In their previous game against Southern Vipers, Diamonds tripped over their own feet and crashed to a three-run defeat in the final over. Rodrigues was at the centre of that self-destruction – dismissed off the second ball of the final over.
On Friday, she showed she had learnt from her mistakes, making sure not to take the game to the final over. Instead, as the pressure mounted, the 18-year-old simply responded by creaming Cross for four boundaries in the 19th over to seal the deal in Diamonds’ favour with seven balls to spare.
Earlier in the day, with their hopes of qualification gone, Thunder won the toss and elected to bat on a sunny day in Scarborough. McGrath and Luus strode out in the middle to face Diamonds bowlers.
McGrath started off positively stroking two boundaries inside the first three overs to get going and her positive intent rubbed off on Luus as she too got into the groove at the other end. In the first few overs, it seemed the pair were dealing only in boundaries.
The move to bring on Katie Levick in the fifth over brought the wicket of Luus as she was dismissed for 15 as Thunder finished the power play with 44 runs on board.
As has been the case all through the tournament Sophia Dunkley failed to make much of an impression as she was dismissed for eight – Levick bagging her second wicket. At 44 for 2 in the seventh over, Thunder were looking for a bit of stability. However, McGrath’s wicket in the ninth over – for an enterprising 29 – further stalled their progress.
Diamonds kept a tight leash on the scoring for much of the innings, Linsey Smith, Beth Langston and Levick bowled as many as 34 dot balls between them. At the halfway stage, the visitors had only managed 65 runs.
Thunder managed to regain some momentum in the latter half of their innings, scoring 100 runs off 10 overs. Kaur (38) and Eleanor Threlkeld attacked Diamonds’ bowlers to seize the advantage. For a change, Kaur’s efforts were overshadowed by that of Threlkeld who scored a fabulous 37-ball 52. A 22-run final over, bowled by Davidson-Richards, helped Thunder post 164 for 5 in 20 overs.
Levick was the pick of the bowlers for Thunder as she finished with figures 2 for 19.
Brief Scores: Lancashire Thunder 164/5 in 20 overs (Elanor Threlkeld 52, Harmanpreet Kaur 38; Katie Levick 2-19, Alice Davidson-Richards 2-51) lost to Yorkshire Diamonds 168/6 in 18.5 overs (Alyssa Healy 77, Jemimah Rodrigues 43*; Sophie Ecclestone 2-18) by four wickets.