Date: 18 August 2019
Venue: Arundel Castle Cricket Club Ground
Match 16 of the final edition of Women's Cricket Super League (WCSL) is a mouth-watering clash between two of the more consistent teams in the WCSL history. It is a battle between two equals Southern Vipers and Surrey Stars - two teams, who for now, look set to reach the semis alongside Western Storm.
While Stars are heading into this fixture on the back of a loss against Loughborough Lightning, Vipers have a tied game to show - versus Lancashire Thunder on Thursday (August 15). It was the batting units that let both teams down.
On the points table, the two teams are neck-and-neck, with Vipers (13) having a slender lead of two points over Stars, who are placed third. Rain robbed both sides a chance to play in their previous meeting on Monday (August 12).
Southern Vipers were certainly lucky in their last match since after the manner in which the top-order crumbled against Thunder, a loss looked inevitable. That they were reeling at 24 for 4 at one stage sums up the capitulation. The likes of Tammy Beaumont, Suzie Bates, Danielle Wyatt and Thea Brookes could only contribute 21 runs among them. The seniors' collective failure made the middle-order's job of chasing, what would normally have been a fairly easy total, very difficult.
The dependency on Stafanie Taylor is visible as in the last two matches, her innings brought some respectability to Vipers' innings. Against Storm, it was her vital knock of an unbeaten 44, that gave Vipers a total of 142, while in their previous outing, her 43-ball 51 helped them tie the match. The experienced trio of Bates, Wyatt and Beaumont need to score some runs to ease Taylor's burden.
Vipers' bowling looks good for now, with each one chipping in with wickets and shouldering equal responsibility. Amanda Wellington starred with the ball in their last match, picking up three quick wickets, while Tash Farrant, Taylor and Bates tied the batters down with their disciplined bowling.
In the previous round, Stars suffered their first defeat in the hands of Lightning. The over-dependence on Lizelle Lee to get off to flying starts is visible. Bryony Smith's failure to get going at the other end has also not helped Stars. The calmness and experience of Sarah Taylor was missed in their last match as there was no one to bat through the innings alongside Natalie Sciver. Marizanne Kapp's promotion to no.3 didn't bear fruit. The defending champions eventually stumbled to a total of 120, courtesy some quick-fire contributions from the lower order.
Their bowling looks in good shape barring the last game against Lightning, where they failed to dislodge the pair of du Preez and Georgia Adams. Stars will certainly look to bounce back and put the disappointment behind them with a more disciplined performance. Laura Marsh has not been among the wickets in the last two matches and she would be eager to change that fact.
After scoring fifty in the first match, Beaumont has failed to make another meaningful impact on her team's campaign so far. She will be keen to get Vipers off to a good start and put pressure on Stars' bowlers. The diminutive right-hander, when in full flow, is a treat to watch. Beaumont would particularly look to target the spinners as she is one of the better players of spin in Vipers' line-up. The contest between her and Dane van Niekerk would be an interesting one to watch.
It was Sciver's wicket that was the turning point of the match against Lightning - it triggered a collapse and Stars then lost momentum and could not recover from that position. Since the duration of Taylor's absence is still not known, the responsibility on Sciver to lead the charge with the bat now doubles. Stars' skipper enjoys playing against Vipers and has a decent record collecting 98 runs and scalping seven wickets in five matches. It would be interesting to see what position she bats on Sunday.
It's a day game and the temperature is 21 degrees celsius, which means it should be warm. Only two matches have been played in the WCSL in Arundel and one game has been won batting first while the other has been won chasing. Both the teams have a few power hitters going around and would fancy their chances chasing.
Southern Vipers: Tammy Beaumont (c), Danielle Wyatt, Charlie Dean, Lauren Bell, Tash Farrant, Maia Bouchier, Carla Rudd, Paige Scholfield, Thea Brookes, Marie Kelly, Issy Wong, Fi Morris, Suzie Bates, Stafanie Taylor, Amanda Wellington.
Surrey Stars: Natalie Sciver (c), Laura Marsh, Sarah Taylor, Bryony Smith, Amy Gordon, Mady Villiers, Aylish Cranstone, Gwenan Davies, Grace Gibbs, Eva Grey, Hannah Jones, Rhianna Southby, Marizanne Kapp, Lizelee Lee, Dane van Niekerk.