KSL Finals Day: The Story Of Four Captains

Yesterday’s KSL Finals Day was really the story of four captains.

Captain One: Georgia Elwiss, the Loughborough Lightning leader. For some KSL teams – Southern Vipers, Western Storm – their choice of captain was obvious; but for Lightning, it was coach Salliann Briggs who decided on Elwiss, after sitting down with a number of her players to talk it through. And who can argue it was the wrong choice? Briggs knows her players inside out; and Elwiss has the intelligence required of an excellent captain.

But she is also one of the least experienced captains in the competition – and inexperience, in a pressure situation, can find you out. There was one odd decision in particular that stood out: with Storm chasing 125, Elwiss chose to open the bowling with seamer Beth Langston, who conceded just 1 run off her first 2 overs – and then never came back on, even when Storm appeared to be cruising to their target.

“My gut instinct was to keep changing the bowlers around,” Elwiss said by way of explanation after the semi-final. It’s probably not the best maxim to live by. By contrast, Vipers bowled Arran Brindle for four overs straight in the final simply because she was clearly making life difficult for the batsmen.

Captain Two: England’s own Heather Knight. It was, of course, her fifty which guided Storm’s chase in the semi-final; and credit to her for that. But equally, after Storm had lost Stafanie Taylor halfway through their innings in the final, it was probably her responsibility to hang around and see them to a good total. She failed to do that, pulling the ball straight to Katie George at deep backward square leg in the 15th over, and you could tell from the way she slammed her bat as she walked off that she was furious with herself.

Then, after Vipers lost Edwards and Bates, Knight had the opportunity to turn the screw on her opponents as they slowly edged towards their target. With 3 overs to go, they still needed 20 runs, and they also needed their captain to keep her cool. But on the second ball of Anya Shrubsole’s over Knight picked up the ball and, without hope of achieving very much, shied at the stumps, earning Sara McGlashan and Lydia Greenway an overthrow. It was the mark of a captain who seemed to be out of options, and wasn’t quite sure what to do.

Shrubsole’s over went for 14 runs and Vipers surged to victory.

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Vipers lift the trophy. Photo credit: Ruth Conchie

Captain Three: Charlotte Edwards – a legend if ever there was one; a player who captained England over 200 times, more than anyone else is ever likely to; a player who is used to captaining on the big stage. Edwards downplayed her own role in the post-match press conference – “This team runs itself; I just pull a few strings”, she said – but she also, tellingly, stressed that “I’ve really sensed the team behind me [during the tournament]”. Only the best captains inspire that kind of loyalty.

Edwards’ knowledge and experience mattered twice-over in yesterday’s final. Firstly, she made the decision to bring Arran Brindle into the attack in the 9th over, and bowl her for four overs straight – a spell in which she conceded just 15 runs, and removed both Stafanie Taylor and Knight from the reckoning. It turned things in the Vipers favour. Another captain might have hesitated to bowl Brindle; might have turned elsewhere. Edwards – good friends with her for so many years now – knew exactly what she was capable of.

And then, of course, there was her 24 off 18 balls to lay the foundations for Vipers’ successful run chase. While Edwards hasn’t shone with the bat during Super League, it showed what she so often displayed for England – that on the days when it really matters, she will come through. “I kept backing myself,” she said, after raising the trophy aloft. “I really enjoyed today. This is what I miss playing in and I love these sort of occasions.”

It’s not that Edwards was seeking revenge – she has said repeatedly that she is not bitter about Mark Robinson’s decision – but if she was, winning the inaugural KSL wouldn’t be a bad way to show Robinson and everyone else that she has damn well still got it. Just in case we ever doubted it.

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The Victorious Captain. Photo Credit: Ruth Conchie

But I said four captains – and no, I didn’t lose count! Because Vipers didn’t just have one captain out there on the field yesterday, they had two.

Suzie Bates was instrumental in Vipers’ path to the final, both with the bat – with scores of 25, 15, 45*, 57 and 38 – and in the way she so calmly stepped into Edwards’ shoes halfway through the first game, even when Vipers had just seen their captain limping off the pitch with a likely concussion. Even since she returned to resume the captain’s mantle in the third game, we’ve seen the unfamiliar sight of Edwards – not the most collaborative of captains towards the end of her England reign – being instructed where to field not by a bowler, but by the current New Zealand skipper.

“When you’ve got experience around you,” Edwards said, paying tribute to Bates after the final concluded, “that’s what really helps.” Bates might have been just pipped by Stafanie Taylor for Player of the Tournament, but it was a close run thing. Vipers will surely be hoping that she’ll be back in orange for next year’s Super League.

12 thoughts on “KSL Finals Day: The Story Of Four Captains

  1. Rubbish article and totally unfare on the other girls.
    Brilliant for Lottie and Greenway to finish the summer in such a way, but let’s leave it at that and celebrate with two great girls having a a great day and not rubbish the young captains.
    Not sure that a top score of 20 odd in the competition proves anything for Lottie. Charlotte is a legend of the woman’s game but everything comes to end some time. Now to move on for her and enjoy the next stage of her life,


  2. I don’t see acknowledging that mistakes were made as “rubbishing” any of the players – I see it as a journalistic judgement that I am obliged to make when reviewing what is in front of me.

    I’m not sure G would see it that way either, given that she herself acknowledged that she owed Langston a drink after the semi-final yesterday.

    If we weren’t allowed to criticise anyone then I’m afraid this site might become rather boring / sycophantic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • With increased money and profile comes increased scrutiny (and possible criticism). The decision not to bring back Langston was commented on at length on TMS as was that to delay Shrubsole’s entry into the attack.


  3. Thanks for this spot-on article Raf. It’s funny that some people really miss the point so badly!

    Rubbishing of players is completely unacceptable, well it is in my view. The point was not about Edwards’ individual form compared to any others, but rather that with the help of Bates, Lottie out-captained the other captains, on this occasion, including England’s new leader – and in so doing, blew a big raspberry in Robinson’s general direction so to speak. It’s not to take away from Knight or Elwiss, who did well to get to the finals, and are obviously still very important for England going forward.

    Knight has done a great job with the Storm, they were definitely in the top 2 sides, but Vipers just had a bit more experience. I think the thing about Shrubsole coming back on to bowl too late is made a bit lesser by the fact that when she did come back she was more expensive anyway.

    Lightning were also very good at times. I think Elwiss has actually done a good job captaining what was one of the more disparate sides to bring together, with players coming from all over the place. You have to remember that the bowling options were always going to be difficult, simply because Lightning had so many of them. It’s something that Lightning might want to rebalance next year. Turning to a big-name bowler rather than one who is bowling best at that moment is an easy mistake to make. I think that Elwiss’ individual form was affected by the captaincy as well, but that could still work itself out given time.


  4. interesting (maybe) that both finalists had two international skippers… just that Taylor didn’t show her captaincy experience in the field so much as she did in leading the batting side from the front…


  5. With CE in place the chances to captain at the highest levels have been few, the KSL has given that chance to several. Mistakes will be made and lessons learned – isn’t that the whole point of the KSL, to give experience at this level?
    Is it really surprising that a team captained by CE won?
    It would have been tempting for teams to put in international captains but that rather defeats the point of it all.


  6. Why does the Vipers wining under Lottie blow a rasperberry at Robinson? Because they won? Surely not, I don’t think anyone had said she was totally past it. She was in charge of a very good team on Sunday with Wisdons player of the year in it who had a great final and competition. Lottie got around 39 runs in the tournament which is hardly an endorsement for her. It doesn’t matter though to me as she is still a fine player and a national treasure but time like it does for us all has caught up with her.
    You could have argued in the final that for someone as experienced as she should have gone on instead of getting out when well set. Or you could say she helped get the Vipers off to a brilliant start. It all depends on how you want to look at it. If anyone is actually bothered, Lottie like Knight also throw at the stumps and missed when there was no need and cost her team an extra run.
    She should, did and will eat tournaments like this for breakfast tactically. No pressure on her now that she is no longer with England. She can bring all that huge experience to the fore and I was so pleased for her on Sunday such a great way to finish a difficult year for a wonderful servant of our game.
    We can’t hide from the facts though. She is 37 and can’t field like she once did or run between the wickets as you would want an International player to. Or ignore the fact that when we played Australia last summer and in the World Cup she looked a long way off their captain both physically, as a player and tactically. We can though still enjoy watching her while she plays for Kent and the Vipers.
    Charlotte has been the best player and best captain this country has ever had, so let’s rejoice in that and let her move on instead of pointless point scoring and snipping.


    • Why do people keep misinterpreting my comments as sniping or “point scoring” whatever that means. Is this the KSL fantasy game?! I’ve never had any interactions with any players or management and probably never will. So nothing to gain. Going to stop commenting I think with things like this.

      It was clearly the manner of Edward’s departure that has caused most consternation, not the fact of it (just to clarify I’m not saying Robinson was wrong in his decision). I just thought that it was ironic how the dropped captain out-captained the other young guns. If you think “she should have done so no surprise”, fine I guess, in that case. Like you say this was a difficult year so it would have meant a lot to her.


      • Please don’t stop commenting James.

        I’m afraid I have never bought the “Edwards can’t field” argument. She’s taken 4 good catches this tournament and pulled off a brilliant direct hit run out to boot. I can’t think of any incidence where she has dropped a catch or misfielded. It’s a handy excuse for those who wanted rid, but doesn’t stack up in reality, at least not from where I’m sitting.

        A fair point about her also giving away an overthrow, but it was at a much less crucial point in the game and just didn’t seem to smack of desperation in the same way.

        Again, these are all subjective judgements and it’s fine that there are strong feelings about Edwards on both sides of the debate. I’m just calling it as I see it (which is pretty much my job).


  7. Wow Raf, now you are been deluded.
    What about all the balls she got no where near because she couldn’t move quickly enough. But then you do have your favourites and can’t see them been critisised can you.


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