Date: 20 August 2019
Venue: Woodbridge Road, Guildford
Coming in to the 2019 edition of the Women’s Cricket Super League in England, Surrey Stars were the team to beat. On paper, they had arguably the strongest squad with a good mix of overseas players, England internationals and local talent. They were defending champions and much was expected of them— many suggested that a title defence was certainly possible; even very likely.
However, five games into their campaign, Natalie Sciver’s team have currently dropped to fourth on the points table, following their second loss of the season— this one to Southern Vipers— on Sunday (August 18). While they are certainly not out of contention for finals day, they have hit a major speed bump along the way.
Since their washed out game against Vipers earlier in their campaign, Stars have suffered consecutive losses— ones in which their batting has majorly let them down. In the absence of Sarah Taylor, their middle order of Sciver, Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk struggled to accumulate scores of any substance against Loughborough Lightning. Bryony Smith’s indifferent form and Lizelle Lee’s inability to capitalise on her rapid starts have further compounded Stars’ problems. Taylor’s return on Sunday, however, did little to turn the tide for Stars.
Their bowling has been their most reliable facet so far. Blessed with a trio of attacking spinners— Laura Marsh, Mady Villiers and van Niekerk— Stars have largely managed to keep their opponents quiet. Only on two occasions have their bowlers had disappointing outings— both of which have led to losses.
Despite their recent failures, Stars will be confident going into their match against a largely demoralised Yorkshire Diamonds in Guildford on Tuesday (August 20). All they need is one good performance to turn their campaign around— something they are more than capable of doing.
Diamonds, on the other hand, have largely struggled to find a winning formula this season. Lauren Winfield, the captain, has been their most consistent batter, while Jemimah Rodrigues has finally found some form. In Diamonds’ six-wicket loss to Lightning, Rodrigues struck her maiden WCSL half-century— a brisk 58 off 40 deliveries— that laid the foundation for a late innings burst that never materialised.
The team from the north have been very good at setting up their innings, but through their campaign have been unable to ever finish with a flurry, often collapsing in a heap. Alyssa Healy’s search for runs has thrown up a rather bare cupboard while Hollie Armitage and Alice Davidson-Richards’ ability to use the long hand has rarely been on display.
Inconsistency with both bat and ball has been one of Diamonds’ main failings this season, and although they will be desperate to turn their season around, it is hard to see them doing it against the defending champions.
With the experience and skill in their squad, Stars will go into the clash as favourites, but one must never discount a team with the likes of Healy and Winfield, and the mercurial talent of Rodrigues in their ranks.
Confident, but wary, will be Sciver’s message to her squad.
Having been left out after Diamonds’ first match against Stars at Leeds, Beth Langston made a strong come back with the ball in her next outing against Lightning on Sunday. The right-arm seamer took the new ball and bowled four tight overs, conceding only 17 runs while also taking the wicket of Amy Jones. She showed great discipline and kept the Lightning batters tied down, bowling as many as 14 dot balls in her spell.
Through the course of their campaign, indiscipline and inconsistency with the ball is something that has plagued Diamonds. Langston’s performance will give them hope that they have now found someone to hold one end up and maintain a sense of control over the match.
Dane van Niekerk
Dane van Niekerk has been in fabulous form with the ball for Stars. In four matches, the leg-spinner has taken eight wickets at an average of 11.75 and tournament economy rate of 6.33. Not afraid to sometimes bowl within the power play, van Niekerk has twice struck in her very first over to put the opposition on the back foot. She is an aggressive leg-spinner and one of Stars’ most attacking options with the ball.
In Stars’ previous match van Niekerk took a hat-trick at the back end of Vipers’ innings to stall their progress. Her contributions to the side with the ball have been unmatched so far. Stars will be hoping that she can now carry some of that confidence into their next game with the bat.
Through the course of the WCSL, none of the matches at Guilford have been high scoring. The highest score at the venue has been Vipers’ 145 for 3— one of the two matches that Stars have lost at this venue.
Chasing has been the preferred option at Guildford, with five out of five games being won by the team batting second, indicating conditions for batting tend to improve as the day goes on.
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, Lizelle Lee, Dane van Niekerk.
Yorkshire Diamonds: Lauren Winfield (c), Katherine Brunt, Alice Davidson-Richards, Katie George, Linsey Smith, Hollie Armitage, Georgia Davis, Helen Fenby, Cordelia Griffith, Bess Heath, Beth Langston, Katie Levick, Alyssa Healy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Leigh Kasperek.