First up: what an impressive effort by Loughborough to get a crowd of over 500 to their first KSL game. No, it wasn’t anywhere near the biggest crowd we’ve seen so far, but the Haslegrave ground isn’t one anyone could ever stumble over by chance and it’s pretty clear that the Lightning PR efforts have paid off big-time. Good on them.
Added to that, it was by far the best atmosphere at any of the KSL games which we’ve been at so far. There was music, bunting, people sitting on the boundary, and a real holiday atmosphere – only added to by the pink deckchairs around the boundary! Plus, there was an announcer-come-compere, whose between-overs commentary was evidently designed to make the game accessible to those who might not have seen much cricket before. We admit, we were sceptical about Loughborough being awarded a franchise – not any longer!
Secondly, this was clearly the game of the Super League (so far!) This is everything the competition should be – hard-fought, edge-of-the-seat stuff. A bit of a shock result in the end but that’s no bad thing at this stage of the competition – it just serves to blow it wide open.
In terms of the cricket itself, this was clearly a batsman’s game – as Amy Satterthwaite said speaking to us after close of play, “it was a great wicket”, and the outfield was pristine. However, Lancashire Thunder did nothing today to dispel the idea that they’ve got a very long tail – no one below number 4 got into double figures. Sure, you’ll win some T20s when your top 4 do their stuff, but you’ll lose a whole heap more. It’s got to be a worry for them going forward.
From a Lightning perspective, it was baffling that Georgia Elwiss chose to bring Ellyse Perry back on to bowl the 19th over after she’d just been tonked for 15 runs in the 17th. Actually Lightning had clawed it back somewhat in overs 13-16 with Sonia Odedra particularly doing a good job to only concede 5 runs off her 1 over of the day. So why persist with Perry? She couldn’t find her length at all today. It seemed a bit captaincy-by-reputation rather than captaining based on what is in front of you.
On Lightning’s performance with the bat, the key point to stress is that Paige Scholfield and Thea Brookes made the game into a game. Lightning were 88-7 when they came together and they could easily have holed out for 10 or 15 – in which case we’d be talking about a total wipeout by Thunder. It’s pretty much what Yorkshire Diamonds did on Saturday – by the time they were 6 wickets down they looked like they’d given up; and it turned into a walkover. Players might often talk in platitudes in post-match press conferences, but when Scholfield said today: ““We always go into batting with a positive mindset; the game’s never over until the last ball” – for once, it sounded like the player really meant it!
It’s a point made all the more impressive by the fact that Scholfield admitted after close of play that her first thought on walking out to bat in front of the 500-strong crowd was: “I’m so nervous!” Brookes said that while she was feeling “pretty devastated”, “getting within 7 runs of winning in the final over was massive…I’m over the moon for what [Paige and I] have come in and done for the team.”
One final point – it’s the small things that tell you something about a person, and it didn’t go unnoticed by us that Mark Robinson made a particular point of leaving the ECB shindig taking place in the Performance Centre after the match ended to come over and shake hands and commiserate with Scholfield and Brookes. A really lovely gesture.