On a sunny bank holiday Monday at Edgbaston Foundation Ground, Lancashire finished their 2017 County Championship season on a high, winning by 5 wickets after Sophie Ecclestone ripped through the Warwickshire batting line-up, taking 6-12.
In doing so they not only denied Warwickshire the chance at County Championship glory, but unexpectedly propelled themselves into the lead after Yorkshire lost to Nottinghamshire, ultimately seizing the Division 1 County Championship crown at the 11th hour.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat, Kathryn Bryce had got Warwickshire off to a solid start with successive boundaries off Kate Cross, but Ecclestone quickly spoiled the party, removing Mina Zahoor (LBW) and Bryce (bowled) in her third over of the day.
She then took a good catch at mid on to see off danger woman Sophie Devine, giving team mate Kate Cross her first wicket of the day, and followed that up in turn with a double wicket maiden, slipping a ball under Marie Kelly’s bat to bowl her and then trapping Bethan Ellis LBW with her very next delivery.
5 Warwickshire wickets had gone down for 27 runs and Ecclestone had been part of them all.
A mini recovery ensued by Warwickshire as Sian Kelly took on the senior role, successfully defending Ecclestone’s hat-trick ball, and putting on 22 runs with Ria Fackrell for the 7th wicket – Warwickshire’s highest partnership of the day.
But Natalie Brown eventually had Fackrell caught at cover and, reintroduced to the attack in the 27th over, Ecclestone went on to claim two further wickets, though it was Cross (3-33) who eventually seized the scalp of Sian Kelly, stumped by Ellie Threlkeld for 21.
Hers was the last wicket to fall, as Warwickshire were all out for 88 in 33.1 overs.
Lancashire stumbled a little in their reply, as Sophie Devine ensured that both Emma Lamb and Natalie Brown were sent back without scoring.
Becky Grundy also got in on the action, having Amy Sattherthwaite out caught behind for 11 and Ellie Threlkeld stumped for 15. By the time lunch was taken, 16 overs into their innings, Lancashire were 59-4.
Crucially, though, in the last match of what has been a brilliant first season for her wearing the Red Rose, Eve Jones remained unbeaten, eventually racking up 35*. Both of Lancashire’s stars with the ball then chimed in with the bat, too, to see their side safely over the line: Kate Cross hitting a speedy 19 (including the only six of the day, over long on) and Ecclestone (8*) contributing two boundaries of her own, including the winning runs in the 21st over.
Both might be said to have made a case for inclusion in the Ashes squad which will fly out to Australia in October.
For Lancashire, though, more immediate celebrations await as they celebrate their maiden County Championship title, adding to the T20 Cup which they won back in July.