Although it was the Vipers that came away with the opening-day victory in their contest with the Stars at Guildford, it was the Stars Sophia Dunkley that stole the show with 66 off 43 balls as the Stars recovered from an early collapse at 18-4 to post 141-9 and make the Vipers work for their win.
Dunkley’s admission afterwards that 18-4 was “not the way we wanted to start off” was something of an understatement but as she also acknowledged it was “a good opportunity to go out there and bat” and that is what she did, hitting some beautifully timed cricket shots along the way.
“I was a bit nervous to start off with – first game nerves and stuff – I just tried to be positive and ignore the situation – stick to my strengths and just bat.”
“The worst thing I could have done in that situation was go into my shell and bat defensively; but as soon as I got going I felt pretty comfortable. I batted well with Dane van Niekerk – she was really helpful and then I felt good out there.”
“It would have been better to be in a better position and get the win but I guess you’ve got to take the little wins – I hope it has got me a bit of recognition.”
Vipers and England’s Tammy Beaumont certainly thought so:
“She batted exceptionally well,” she said. “The way she put any width away – that it’s the best I’ve seen her bat.”
“She’s put in a number of good performances before but she seems to be taking it up a notch. She must be knocking on the door for an England contract.”
Of course, England are so strong with the bat at the moment that it is hard to see how anyone breaks into the squad right now; but Dunkley is only just 20 years old and has time on her side – even if she doesn’t get the call-up for November, on the evidence of today it will come – probably sooner rather than later!
Can’t help thinking Dunkley’s innings was the most significant of the day. With Thunder collapsing and Stars in trouble at 18-4, the last thing needed on opening day was two “walkovers.” With DvN she rescued that match and made it competitive. Chapeau, Sophia!
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Well what a brilliant innings from Dunkley. She looks a real talent to me and there’s no doubt she’s easily England material. Being able to turn it on like that when it matters is a sign of real class. She was brutal against any width or anything too full, scored at a rapid pace, rotating strike and hitting the ball very powerfully. She played a nearly chanceless innings until holing out to Wyatt off the impressive Fi Morris, with only a sniff of a tough chance not taken by Vipers. It was a great recovery from Stars after a shaky start, with good contributions from DVN and Kapp as well. That total of 141 might have been enough against worse teams than Vipers, but in truth Stars bowled too full or wide, and the spinners, Marsh and DVN, were never able to wrest control of the chase from the excellent Beaumont or Du Preez. Vipers just missed the bonus point though.
Vipers are going to beat tough to beat again, although as others have pointed out it’s a bit naughty of them to have McGlashan not counting in their Internationals quota, even though in reality she’s just as good. Adding Beaumont to an already very strong lineup could well give them far too much on most occasions. Which is good for Vipers but maybe not the league!
Storm powered to an impressive win after Diamonds, without Brunt, posted a respectable 162 at Taunton; but couldn’t contain an aggressive Mandhana or Heather Knight, playing one of her best T20 knocks, and falling just short of a last-gasp match-winning ton. That was despite a first ball wicket for Fenby’s promising looking leg-breaks and googlies!
Meanwhile on what seemed to be a tricky wicket at Southport, Thunder could only manage a paltry 72 against Lightning’s new attack with Jemmy Gunn taking 3-10 and Devine 3-15. Only Eve Jones, and Cross and Brown at the end managed double figures. Thunder made inroads into Lightning’s order, Hartley taking 2-10, but in truth they were at least 30 runs light of causing them any real concerns. Thunder must find a way of lasting out their innings, and giving what looks to be a strong attack something to bowl at. For Lightning the theme was their new players did pretty well.
Great start to the league. The theme today was batting second won the day, which won’t always be the case; and the toss really mattered. Teams need to be careful in their reading of the pitch and conditions, but today the Captains got it right. Stars are under the pump now with a tough midweek trip to Storm, meaning that their next home match against Diamonds may be a must-win to get them on the board. I feel Lightning may give them a run for their money this year. Friday’s Roses clash may set the tone for one of those teams, too, although it’s hard to see the game being anything other than pretty close!
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One thing to point out James is that it is not ‘naughty’ of the vipers to include McGlashan as a ‘non- international’ she does hold a british passport and is not playing international cricket so… Vipers used the rule book to their advantage.
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It might be ok by a loop hole in employment law but I think it’s disgraceful Paul. The competition is meant to be the development of our future England players. Why do they need another overseas batter when they have 4 of the best international batters already plus Kerr who has just got an ODI double hundred? How on earth is a young Academy girl or county player meant to get a look in.
Plus Brindle, who may be English but is hardly “up and coming” or “a prospect”.