On a melting hot day at The Oval, the two El(l)yses – Villani and Perry – hit 71 and 68 respectively, as the Lightning beat the Stars by 81 runs, to finish their Super League campaign with a second bonus-point victory. But for the Lightning it was the best of times and the worst of times, as despite the result they failed to qualify for Finals Day.
On the same pitch where the men had hit over 400 runs in the T20 Blast the previous night, Lightning skipper Georgia Elwiss won the toss and chose to bat against the Stars, with the Lightning knowing that not only did they need the win, but also for other results to go their way, to have any hope of semi-final qualification; whilst for the Stars a win would seal direct entry to next Friday’s final.
Opening the batting with Amy Jones still injured, Sarah Glenn lasted just 3 balls, caught by Rene Farrell at mid on off Laura Marsh for 0.
Elyse Villani was soon into her stride however, swatting Marsh dismissively for a huge 6 over backward square, as she plundered 17 from the England offie’s 2nd over.
Replacing Marsh, Nat Sciver bowled a maiden to Ellyse Perry, but could do little to halt Villani’s scoring rate in the following over as she continued to find the boundary regularly, helped by some poor fielding from the Stars.
Villani reached her 50 off 28 balls in the 8th over, with another big 6 over cow corner off Alex Hartley, whilst at the other end Perry drifted on at a Strike Rate of well under 50. By the time Villani was out, for a 39-ball 71 – caught by Sophia Dunkley at long off – Perry had made it into double-figures… just… on 10!
Having come in in the 1st over, Perry hit her first boundary (a 6 off Hartley) in the 12th, as she finally started to get motoring.
Incoming batsman Georgia Elwiss meanwhile looked like a lady who hasn’t played much cricket, as she scratched around for a 13-ball 6.
In the meantime Perry pushed on, and by the time she brought up her 50 – smashing the penultimate over, bowled by Nat Sciver, for 22 – she had accelerated sufficiently to push her Strike Rate over 100 – finishing on 68* off 53 balls, as the Lightning posted 171-3, with Thea Brookes playing a useful supporting role to Perry, with 14 off 13 at the end.
With the Stars needing well over 8 an over, Tammy Beaumont got a start, reaching 11 off 11 balls, before Kristen Beams was granted an LBW after what must go down as one of the longest and loudest appeals in history!
Lizelle Lee meanwhile couldn’t pick up where she left off after the other day’s 72, and was caught at deep square by Sonia Odedra for 1 off 8 balls – that gave Perry a wicket-maiden; though it could have been a double if she had not immediately dropped Nat Sciver on 0 – an admittedly difficult caught and bowled chance which was hit back at her very hard.
Perry picked up another wicket in her 3rd over – Marizanne Kapp bowled playing down the wrong line at a straight delivery – leaving the Stars 25-3 at the end of the powerplay.
With the required rate having climbed to well over 10, it was already looking like the Lightning’s day. Bryony Smith holed-out to Villani at long on – a good catch over her right shoulder; but with Nat Sciver getting going at the other end – hitting Georgia Elwiss for three consecutive 4s – there was still hope for the Stars.
That hope disappeared however with a furious Sciver smashing her bat down onto the pitch, having been bowled by Sarah Glenn for 24 in the 12th over.
Sophia Dunkley was bowled by Beth Langston for 8, exposing her stumps as she looked to play a rather too premeditated leg glance; whilst Sonia Odedra took another solid catch at deep square to dismiss Laura Marsh; then a third running around to mid off to bag Rene Farrell.
The inevitable last wickets came two-by-two – Becky Grundy bowling Grace Gibbs for 9 (including a 6), and then Alex Hartley for a golden duck – the Stars finishing on 90 all out, 105 runs short.
The result means that the Stars miss out on direct final qualification, and will contest the semi-final against the Storm next Friday afternoon at Hove for the right to meet the Vipers in the final; whilst the Lightning finish 4th overall, just missing out on Finals Day.
Afterwards, we spoke to a slightly disappointed Georgia Elwiss, who told us:
“Unfortunately we didn’t get into our stride quick enough over the tournament, and that’s what has cost us; but it is nice to finish with a win like this, and for people to show what they can do.”
“We always know that Ellyse Perry will start a little bit slower than others, but Elyse Villani was brilliant – taking all that pressure off her [Perry] so she could play her natural game – both of them were outstanding today and really showed their class. It was a flat pitch, but Surrey have got an all international attack and they bowled quite well those last 10 overs, but we always know that Pez [Perry] can catch up when she gets in.”