Western Storm got off to the perfect start in their opening match of the 2019 Women’s Cricket Super League beating Loughborough Lightning by seven wickets in Haslegrave ground in Loughborough on Tuesday (August 6).
Having chosen to bat first, Lightning lost three wickets in the first four overs.
Freya Davies settled the nerves for Storm early when she sent back Matthews without scoring. Having bowled two wides to start the game, she found her length and castled Matthews for a second-ball duck. That wasn’t a particular disaster for Lightning in itself but when Chamari Atapattu top-edged Claire Nicholas’ sixth ball of the game to Rachel Priest behind the stumps the alarm bells started to ring.
A little over an over later, Storm were in full flow when Elwiss, playing across the line, was bowled without scoring by Deepti Sharma who’s WCSL bowling career was only two balls old.
In the midst of all this carnage, Amy Jones had been the very picture of calmness at the other end. In the past, there have been times when Jones has panicked and tried to force the issue, but on Tuesday she just waited for the bad ball. Jones scored 65 off 53 balls – it was the second-highest score by a Lightning batter in the history of their games against Western Storm.
Along with Mignon du Preez, Jones set about rebuilding the innings. With the score on 15 for 3 that was going to be a tall order. However, du Preez seemed to have a calming effect on Jones, as the pair began to stitch together an important partnership. They added 77 for the fourth wicket, whilst working mostly in singles.
Jones, who has struggled of late in the white-ball format of the game, looked near her best against Storm. She did the majority of the boundary hitting while du Preez nudged and nurdled her way to a steady 35-ball 29. Jones hit six fours and a six – the rest of the Lightning batters scored three fours and a six.
That partnership was broken by Alex Griffiths trapping du Preez lbw for 29 as the batter looked to work her through leg-side.
Jones and Georgia Adams were tasked with getting their side past 130 which would have been just about enough. Both were industrious running quick singles and turning ones into twos. Their partnership helped lift Lightning’s score to 125 for 6 in 20 overs.
Nicholas finished with figures of 2 for 30, while Davies managed figures of 2 for 24. Sharma bowled tight lines and finished her WCSL debut with figures of 1 for 17. Heather Knight and Nicholas were a little more expensive going at around seven an over.
Lightning were aware that they would have to bowl well up front if they were to restrict Storm to what was a measly target. However, Matthew’s horrid debut for the club meant Storm got off to an excellent start and were therefore always ahead of the game. Matthews bowled too short to Rachel Priest who hit her for four and then next ball launched her for six.
Priest was dismissed in the next over for 12 by Elwiss as she skied the fifth ball of the over to Matthews at mid-on who was grateful to take the catch.
Following the first wicket, Smriti Mandhana and Knight never looked in trouble as they milked the Lightning bowlers and never went more than one over without finding the boundary. Knight added 41 runs to her total of 172 against Lightning, but it was Mandhana that the crowd had come to see and the left-hander did not disappoint in her innings of 32 from just 24 balls.
It took a good catch from Georgia Adams at long-on to see off the Indian superstar. Sarah Glenn the leg-spinner coming into the attack persuaded Mandhana to go long and straight but it was the young bowler who got her reward.
Adams and Glenn also combined to end Knight’s innings this time Adams had some work to do as the ball started to dip in front of her but she held on.
It was too late to change the course of the games as by then Fran Wilson was well set and Western Strom won with three overs to spare.
While the result was expected from Western Storm, there were some positives for Loughborough Lightning with the bowling of Glenn who finished with figures of 2 for 13, and the batting of Jones. They will be keen to put thing right on Thursday (August 8) when they play Southern Vipers on the same ground.
Brief scores: Loughborough Lightning 125/6 in 20 overs (Amy Jones 65, Mignon du Preez 29; Freya Davies 2-24, Claire Nicholas 2-30) lost to Western Storm 126/3 in 17 overs (Heather Knight 41, Fran Willson 33*; Sarah Glenn 2-13) by seven wickets.