Freya Davies is a wicket taker. That’s probably all she knows. In her debut series in international cricket – three T20Is versus Sri Lanka in March 2019, she had picked three wickets, giving away runs at just over four and a half per over.
And now, fast forward to this year’s Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL), she has done just that. Taken wickets. 13 of them in this season, including her WCSL career-best of 4 for 18 on Tuesday (August 20) – her second four-wicket haul in this year’s tourney.
Davies’ spell was preceded by fifties from Heather Knight and Fran Wilson. The trio’s efforts ensured that routine business continued for Western Storm, who notched up their seventh win in a row this season, beating Southern Vipers by 15 runs at the Bristol County Ground on Tuesday.
Davies began in the right earnest, nicking out Suzie Bates (two) off the second ball she bowled. The Kiwi batter’s poor run this season continued. From then on, there was hardly a phase when Vipers looked like chasing down the 171-run target in front of them.
Danielle Wyatt’s presence, though, kept Storm on their toes. She clubbed Anya Shrubsole for four consecutive fours in the penultimate over of the powerplay, taking 17 off it. Just like that, she had raced away to 28 off just 15 balls. The memories of her hundred in the last outing became vivid.
Seamer Alex Griffiths was then hit for a six and a four as 12 runs came off the only over that she bowled in the game. Knight tried bowling her slow off-spinners, but even she was taken for a six. Soon, Wyatt got to her fifty in just 28 balls, getting there with a boundary off Deepti Sharma’s off-spin.
That, probably was the only time Vipers seemed like overhauling the target in front of them. They had raced to 74 for 1 in just nine overs – to put it into perspective, Storm were 74 for 2 at the end of the 10th over.
However, disaster struck soon, as Wyatt had to walk back. A flat and short ball just outside off from Claire Nicholas, the off-spinner, could have been cut away for a boundary. Instead it flew straight to Sharma at backward point. Nicholas’ elation and Wyatt being distraught was equally fathomable. The 73-run partnership between Wyatt and Beaumont had ended.
Thenceforth, the Vipers were playing the catching game. Stopping the flow of runs was Storm’s main aim, fall of wickets being the pleasing by-product that they got in return. Soon Beaumont was sent to the dugout by Shrubsole for 25.
As long as Stafanie Taylor was in the middle, Vipers could have believed. But she was seen clutching her thigh in pain as she ran one of the twos. After getting some attention, she didn’t look at ease. Soon enough she perished as well.
Shrubsole then got two in her final over, in which she also conceded 11 runs. Davies then added a couple more to her kitty and dealt the final blow. She now has 31 wickets in the WCSL, moving to fourth on the list of top wicket-takers in the competition.
Earlier, as has become habit, Smriti Mandhana and Rachel Priest didn’t waste much time getting into the groove. The flurry of boundaries started from the very first over. The Kiwi batter, though, seemed to have an issue with her back, as first, in the fourth over and then after hitting three consecutive fours in the fifth over, she was seen holding her back in pain.
Soon enough, she was trapped in front after she missed a hoick off Lauren Bell.
A couple of overs later, Mandhana holed out to long on off Amanda Wellington, the Australian leg-spinner, to leave Storm on 54 for 2 in 6.5 overs.
It was then that Knight and Wilson got together in what was to be a batting saga. First, they went along cautiously in order to not expose Storm’s largely untested middle order. It was only after the halfway stage that the duo began to cut lose. ‘One four an over’ seemed to be their mantra as they achieved their target in the next three overs. 14 runs each were plundered off the 15th and the 16th over, giving Storm the momentum.
In the interim, Isabelle Wong, one of the players to watch out for in this season, bowled a couple of overs for just 15. She didn’t have wickets to show but the movement that she generated was impressive.
Meanwhile, Knight overtook Wilson and reached the half-century mark first. It was her seventh fifty in the WCSL. However, on the penultimate delivery of the innings, she holed out to Bouchier at long on off Stafanie Taylor. Her final score read 68 runs off 41 balls with seven fours and a six. In the process, she crossed the 900-run mark in her WCSL career, the first player to do so.
Wilson, later, got to her fifty off the final ball of the innings, scampering through for a single and making it to the other end with a dive. It was her third fifty overall and second in this season. Taylor had impressive figures of 4-0-20-1 – easily the pick of the Vipers bowlers.
Brief Scores: Western Storm 170/3 in 20 overs (Heather Knight 61, Fran Wilson 50*; Stafanie Taylor 1/20) beat Southern Vipers 155/9 in 20 overs (Danielle Wyatt 56; Freya Davies 4/18) by 15 runs.