A Close Game?
With Stars eventually winning by a mere 4 runs (via the D/L Method), on the surface of it this match ended in a close result. In actual fact the only reason Vipers got so close to the required total were the 16 runs Tash Farrant and Suzie Bates hit off the 16th over – largely a result of Stars’ misfielding an incredibly slippy ball, thanks to several previous overs of constant rain. While no one likes the weather intervening, justice therefore probably was done this time around.
You could tell that Lizelle Lee was furious with herself when she hit the ball straight to Bates at cover in the 5th over, but she’s a risk-taking player, and sometimes when you take risks you get out! With 40 off 20 balls, you’d have to say that she did a good job in laying a foundation for her side to launch from – and though the runs dried up once she departed, that was hardly her fault.
Prior to this game we’ve had plenty of people asking if (when) we were intending to revise our prediction that Vipers wouldn’t retain their KSL crown. But, while Vipers absolutely annihilated their opponents in the first two matches of the tournament, today was always going to be the big one as far as we were concerned, with Stars our favourites to take home this year’s KSL title. And so it proved. Vipers are still a good team – but they aren’t invincible this time around. On that note…
In some ways it was a familiar story today, with Suzie Bates once again ploughing her way to 50 not out. Unfortunately for the Vipers, she can’t bat at both ends. Indeed in some ways they were victims of their own success – before today, they had never lost more than 4 wickets in a KSL game, and as such their middle / lower order were always going to find it difficult coming out to bat in the middle of a tricky run chase.
Ultimately it was losing the cluster of wickets in the 13th-15th overs that really made the difference and ensured that the Vipers ended up having to play D/L catch-up. Something to work on, perhaps, as a still-likely spot in Finals Day looms on the horizon.
Both Stars and Vipers have shipped in international openers this year, acquiring Lizelle Lee and Hayley Matthews. In turn, that’s meant that last year’s KSL openers Bryony Smith and Georgia Adams have been booted down the order – today coming in at 5 and 6, and scoring 5 and 0, respectively. It’s unfamiliar territory for players who both regularly open for their counties, and it shows in their unease walking out to bat. Might an experienced international player like Lee be better able to cope with coming in further down the order? Or should you always play your “best” openers up top? It’s a dilemma not easily resolved, but a dilemma nonetheless.
Domestic Cricket Matters
The best preparation for KSL is of course high-quality domestic cricket in the lead-up; for non-international players that’s a particular concern. On that note, it’s interesting to look at the contrasting fortunes of two of today’s Vipers’ players: Charlotte Edwards and Arran Brindle.
Exhibit A: Edwards, who now plays her domestic cricket for Bishop’s Stortford CC’s women’s team, and Hampshire (who sit in Div 2 of the Women’s County Championship). Exhibit B: Brindle, who (with two young children) is no longer able to play women’s county cricket, but still regularly plays 1st XI men’s cricket for Louth CC in Lincolnshire. Edwards today was out for a 5-ball duck. Brindle, meanwhile, took 1-19 in her 4 overs, and hit 19 off 17 balls to boot. It seems pretty clear who was the better prepared of the two.
So could it be that there are issues with the quality of domestic women’s cricket in this country, below the elite level? We’ll leave you to ponder that one…