In a rain-reduced 40-over game at Edgbaston, Warwickshire made it two from two across the first weekend of the Championship, racking up a 6-wicket win against Sussex thanks to some skilful tandem bowling from Liz Russell (4-12) and Kathryn Bryce (2-22).
Play did not begin until 2.20pm, at which point – the covers having moved in and out like a fiddlers elbow – an 80 over game looked a big ask, but the weather eventually held long enough for the reduced game to reach its conclusion, with the Bears the beneficiaries.
Put in to bat by Warwickshire captain Marie Kelly, Sussex started solidly, reaching 28 without loss after 8 overs, but the dual introduction of Russell and Bryce to the attack in the 8th over changed the course of the game. Russell began with a double-wicket maiden – both Ariana Dowse and Beth Tagg falling LBW, at either end of the over.
Sussex continued to exemplify the idea that “one brings two” as Bryce, too, managed two wickets in an over (and narrowly missed out on a hat trick), having Abbey Freeborn caught at point and Ellen Burt bowled in successive deliveries. Russell meanwhile claimed her 3rd and 4th wickets of the day in the 17th and 19th overs, as both Paige Scholfield (17) and Tara Norris (0) misjudged her line and were bowled. By the end of the Russell-Bryce middle-overs onslaught Sussex were 60-6.
Kelly subsequently proved her own tactical astuteness, deliberately tempting Linsey Smith (joint top-scorer for Sussex, making 17) into trying to hit Nish Patel over the top – straight into Kelly’s waiting hands at long on. Sussex were eventually all out for 85 in the 38th over.
In reply, Warwickshire rode their luck early on, with Mina Zahoor surviving some close LBW appeals and Georgia Hennessy (who went on to make 16) dropped by Scholfield at cover while still on 0. Wickets did eventually come Sussex’s way – 17-year-old Nancy Harman did well to remove both Hennessy (bowled) and Kelly (lbw for 19) – but by the time Kelly fell in the 24th over she had already stabilised proceedings and it was a case of too little, too late for the visitors. Ultimately it was a wayward wide ball making its way across the boundary which sealed the 6-wicket victory.
Afterwards, Liz Russell told CRICKETher:
“Waiting around for the rain is never good, I don’t really suit that, so I was actually shocked to do so well today! The pitch did a lot, and I also bowled some good variation – a couple of slower balls.”
“We were expecting two tough games this weekend so we’re very happy with how they’ve gone – there was a massive team performance on both days. To beat Sussex is something we’ve never done, so to be a part of that was really good.”