Danni Wyatt scored runs for Southern Vipers. ©Southern Vipers/Twitter

Rollicking half-centuries from Tammy Beaumont and Danielle Wyatt headlined a 34-run win for Southern Vipers over Lancashire Thunder in the opening match of the Women’s Cricket Super League at Aigburth in Liverpool on Tuesday (August 6). The pair’s century stand guided Vipers to 166 for 7 before the bowlers combined to dismiss Thunder for 132. 

Having won the toss and chosen to bat, Vipers got off to an inauspicious start, losing Suzie Bates in the second over of the match. However, the loss of the former New Zealand captain did little to hold back Wyatt. The right-hander took to Kate Cross, the Lancashire skipper, early in the day, spanking her for three boundaries off her second over.

From then on, there was no looking back, as Wyatt and Beaumont found the boundary regularly. While the former chose to keep her shots along the ground, the Vipers captain took the aerial route, sending the ball sailing over the boundary on as many as five occasions. Quite fittingly, Wyatt brought up her maiden WCSL fifty with a boundary— her tenth of the innings. 

At the halfway mark, Vipers were cruising at 86 for 1, and it looked like the pair were just getting started. In the following over from Cross, Beaumont really stepped on the accelerator. The diminutive right-hander pummeled her opposite number for three consecutive sixes to bring up her  half-century off only 23 balls— the third fastest half-century by an English player in the history of the competition. At that point she had hit two fours and five sixes.

As the pair notched up Vipers’ first ever century partnership in the WCSL, it seemed the visitors were well on their way to a total in excess of 180. However, that was when Thunder’s spinners got into the act. First Emma Lamb removed Wyatt for a 39-ball 54, and then Sophia Dunkley struck within the space of nine balls to send Beaumont (53) back to the hut. 

At that point Vipers had reached 115 for 3 in 13.3 overs and were clearly looking to accelerate. While Stafanie Taylor— making her debut for the Vipers— attempted to keep the rate up with a 25-ball cameo, wickets continued to tumble around her. Following Beaumont’s dismissal, Vipers only managed to score 51 runs in the remaining 39 deliveries— 40 of which came off the bat of Taylor— whilst losing four wickets.

Sophie Ecclestone was Thunder’s star with the ball. Among all the carnage of Beaumont and Wyatt, the left-arm spinner finished with incredible figures of 4-0-12-1. Alex Hartley, her fellow left-armer, was Thunder’s most successful bowler, picking up 2 for 38.

Thunder’s chase never really got the blocks. Sune Luus, making her maiden appearance for the club, opened the batting alongside Georgie Boyce and failed to find any rhythm in her batting. She struggled to a 12-ball 3 before she was dismissed in the fourth over by Lauren Bell.

Boyce and Tahlia McGrath attempted to lift the run rate with some lusty blows, but just when it looked like the latter was beginning to find her range she became Wyatt’s first victim. McGrath’s 20-ball 28 included two fours and two sixes.

The allrounder’s dismissal with the score at 68 for 2 in the 11th over marked the beginning of the end for Thunder. Harmanpreet Kaur, Thunder’s biggest overseas star failed to make much of an impression, falling for one to Wyatt’s off-spin.

With the run-rate continually climbing, Thunder could do little to keep up with it. When Boyce fell for 43 with Thunder still requiring 75 from 33 deliveries, the visitors appeared to be completing the last rites.

Although Thunder’s lower order attempted to show some fight it was too little too late, as the hosts’ innings stuttered to a close with three balls to spare. 

Tash Farrant, the left arm seamer cleaned up the tail with a clinical spell, picking up 3 wickets for 18. Wyatt and  Bell also picked up two wickets each. In fact, the former’s contributions with the ball were extremely important. Her off-spin accounted for two of Lancashire’s biggest scalps in McGrath and Kaur.

Brief scores: Southern Vipers 166/7 in 20 overs (Danielle Wyatt 54, Tammy Beaumont 53; Alex Hartley 2-38) beat Lancashire Thunder 132 in 19.3 overs (Georgie Boyce 43, Tahlia McGrath 28; Tash Farrant 3-18, D Wyatt 2-14) by 34 runs.