Match Preview: Surrey Stars vs Lancashire Thunder
Date: August 8, 2019
Venue: Woodbridge Road, Guildford
Lancashire Thunder and Surrey Stars made contrasting starts to their 2019 Women’s Cricket Super League campaigns on Tuesday (August 6). While Thunder were clearly outplayed by a more aggressive and rampaging Southern Vipers team in Liverpool, Surrey Stars hung on by the skin of their teeth to pull off a nine-run win over Yorkshire Diamonds.
It was the spinners who stood out for both teams— Sophie Ecclestone for Thunder and Laura Marsh for Stars.
While the rest of her teammates were being carted around the ground by Danielle Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont, Ecclestone stood out like a sore thumb. The left-arm spinner conceded only 12 runs in her four overs whilst also picking up the wicket of Paige Scholfield in her final over. Although Hartley (2 for 34), another left-armer, and Sophia Dunkley (1 for 11), the leg-spinner, also showed their effectiveness with the ball, Ecclestone was head and shoulders above of the rest.
With the bat too Thunder largely struggled. Sune Luus, the South African international, stuttered to a 12-ball three before Georgie Boyce and Tahlia McGrath attempted to breathe some life into the chase.
Stars also had a mixed day in the field. Their tweakers, led by Marsh, the veteran off-spinner, combined to trigger Diamonds’ batting collapse. After Mady Villiers had orchestrated the dismissal of Healy (again), Marsh, Dane van Niekerk and Sciver combined to keep Diamonds’ line-up from reaching the target of 130.
At the end of the day, it was Surrey’s experience that carried them through in what could have been an incredibly tight game. Sciver, van Niekerk and Marsh held their nerve with the ball, bowling 28 dots in 11.5 overs between them. They also picked up six wickets.
While the defending champions will be looking to put up a more solid performance with the bat, Lancashire will be keen to show improvement on all fronts. Their bowlers struggled to keep the batters quiet, while the batters failed to hit the ball off the square. Only McGrath showed some intent with the bat, while Cross came in at the back end of the innings and swung for the fences. Harmanpreet Kaur, Luus and Dunkley will have to step up if Thunder want to challenge the might of Surrey.
While form and experience point to Surrey, it is hard to count out a team with the strength of Thunder’s bowling attack.
Sciver led from the front in Surrey’s victory over Yorkshire in their opening game. She found the middle of the bat early in her innings, stitching together an important 48-run stand with Sarah Taylor for the third wicket. Sciver struck two fours and a six in her 19-ball 24— a knock that helped set up Surrey’s total of 129. She then came back and picked up two crucial wickets with the ball further embedding herself as the team’s leading allrounder.
Sciver’s contributions with bat, ball and in the field will be crucial to Surrey’s campaign in the tournament. She has proven to be not only one of the best allrounder in the league, but also one of the most astute captains as well. Although she undoubtedly leads one of the strongest sides in the WCSL, she has shown the ability to get the best out of her younger players— contributions which Surrey will need through the course of the next month.
Since England’s tour of India in 2018, Ecclestone has firmly established herself as one of the leading spinners in the world. With an efficient, easy and high-arm action, Ecclestone has the ability to extract turn and bounce off most surfaces. She has easily one of the best arm balls going around and is one of the most astute bowlers on the international circuit. The 20-year-old’s ability to bowl with both the new and old ball, in the field restrictions, through the middle and at the death, mean that she is also one of England’s and Thunder’s ‘go-to’ bowlers under pressure.
As she has shown in the recent past— through the Ashes series and in the first match of the WCSL— Ecclestone can keep even the best and most aggressive batters in the world quiet. She has shown a maturity and intelligence well beyond her years and will continue to bee Cross’ trump card through the tournament.
Guildford is one of Surrey’s premier clubs and has hosted four matches in the WCSL between 2016 and 2018. Surrey have won two of the four games there, with one being washed out. While, only one of the three completed games has seen a score in excess of 140, the two matches won by Surrey— both chasing— make it clear that conditions do not deteriorate in the second half of the day. Chasing may be a good option.
Surrey Stars: Natalie Sciver (c), Laura Marsh, Sarah Taylor, Bryony Smith, Mady Villiers, Amy Gordon, Aylish Cranstone, Gwenan Davies, Grace Gibbs, Eva Gray, Hannah Jones, Rhianna Southby, Marizanne Kapp, Dane van Niekerk, Lizelle Lee.
Lancashire Thunder: Kate Cross (c), Alex Hartley, Sophie Ecclestone, Sophia Dunkley, Georgie Boyce, Emma Lamb, Natalie Brown, Danielle Collins, Alice Dyson, Ria Fackrell, Ellie Threkeld, Eve Jones, Harmanpreet Kaur, Sune Luus, Tahlia McGrath.