Two consecutive victories for Kent in Sunday’s round of Twenty20s at Arundel saw them emerge as front-runners in this year’s competition, as the only division 1 team so far unbeaten.
Speaking to CRICKETher after the two wins, Kent opener Tammy Beaumont said that Kent had particularly relished their victory against Sussex, which came in the two sides’ first encounter after the controversial tie at Beckenham earlier this season.
“We’ve put what happened last time behind us, and it was played in a very good spirit, but it’s always nice to come out on top against Sussex.”
“It feels really good.”
Kent’s triumph over Sussex came by just 4 runs as Sussex failed to chase down their target of 114 despite Sarah Taylor’s 48*.
The match had begun in overcast, damp conditions after a half-hour rain delay, and Sussex duly put Kent in to bat after winning the toss. Izi Noakes struck immediately, removing both Tammy Beaumont and Lydia Greenway for 1 run apiece – Beaumont lbw and Greenway bowled.
But a 66-run partnership between Charlotte Edwards and Laura Marsh, aided by some sloppy fielding from Sussex, saw Kent recover to 73-2 after 13 overs.
A spell from Erin Osborne (who finished with 3-14) eventually helped to stem the flow of runs, as Kent ended on 113-7.
It looked an eminently chaseable total, but an excellent opening spell from Tash Farrant (2-13) put Sussex on the back foot, with both Georgia Adams (bowled for 3) and Georgia Elwiss (caught behind for 16) dismissed early.
Sussex struggled throughout the innings to keep up with the rate, hitting no boundaries at all between the 12th and 20th overs, as Kent’s excellent fielding ensured that they were consigned to running singles.
Sarah Taylor was left needing to hit a maximum off the final ball of the match, but managed just one run. Kent were notably careful to avoid premature celebration as Edwards – who had once again elected to bowl the final over – removed the bails at the non-strikers end!
Kent followed this up with a 21-run win over Middlesex, setting an impressive total of 135 thanks to a 62-run partnership from Edwards and Greenway, which Middlesex’s batsmen failed to chase down.
After Tammy Beaumont was stumped off the bowling of Danni Warren in the 3rd over, both Edwards (43) and Greenway (35) looked in good touch. When Edwards was caught by Millie Pope at cover in the 14th over, Greenway and Marsh (30) continued to attack the Middlesex bowlers.
Middlesex were fresh from chasing down 136 against Nottinghamshire in the last round of T20s, and when Farrant’s first over went for 10 (including 7 wides) it looked like they might be able to repeat the feat. But it was not to be. After Sophia Dunkley played onto her own stumps in Kara Sutherland’s opening over, a 3-over spell from Marsh, in which she conceded just 14 runs but removed both Fran Wilson and Anna Nicholls, put a huge dent in Middlesex’s ability to make the total. Despite a fighting 35-run partnership between Beth Morgan (15) and captain Izzy Westbury (30), they eventually fell a long way short of the runs required.
A disappointing day for Middlesex concluded with a second loss to Sussex, in a tight game which eventually saw Holly Colvin (27*) hit the winning runs with 2 overs to spare.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, Middlesex were left 17-3 as ferocious opening spells from Noakes (2-21) and Freya Davies (1-20) ripped through their top order. Wickets continued to fall, but a fluent innings from Wilson (64*) – the highest individual score of the day – saw Middlesex post a competitive total of 118-8.
Once again Sussex suffered from an early set-back in their run-chase, this time thanks to a triple wicket-maiden from Warren, who dismissed Adams (caught at mid-off), Elwiss (lbw) and Schofield (also lbw) to leave them 11-3 after 3 overs.
After Westbury had Taylor stumped for 21 in the 13th over, it was left to Alexia Walker (40) and Colvin to steady the ship, as the two shared a 30-run partnership. There was still time for some last-minute Sussex nerves when Walker was herself stumped in the 17th over, with 12 runs still needed – but Colvin finished with two boundaries to see her team over the line.
The next round of T20s will be played on 2nd August when all teams will be without their England players. For Middlesex, who are without a contracted player in their squad, it should provide an opportunity for a fightback.