KSL: Vipers v Lightning – Have We Underestimated Loughborough Lightning?

Before today, in the 2 years since the Kia Super League was launched, Southern Vipers had never been bowled out. Now they have; and all the talk pre-competition about their strong batting line-up suddenly sounds rather hollow.

The demeanour of Tammy Beaumont in the post-match interview certainly suggested that this was a match her side expected to win. “It’s quite frustrating to lose this game tonight,” she admitted. “It’s a tough one to take.”

Beaumont was clear about what went wrong. Steering away from blaming dropped catches (both Elyse Villani and Amy Jones were dropped when on 20*) or tight run-out chances (a third-umpire review saving Jones after a Bates direct hit), Beaumont said, simply: “Getting bowled out for 105 cost us the game.”

Her description of it as “a naive batting performance” just about summed it up. From an England perspective Danni Wyatt’s continuing weakness against spin – once again she was dismissed caught on the ring – will be a concern ahead of the WWT20. A bigger, more immediate problem for Vipers is Suzie Bates’ slump in form, which has come at the worst possible time for them, and culminated today in her first ever duck in either KSL or WBBL. Whether Vipers can make Finals Day will likely depend on whether she can recover some semblance of her usual prowess with the bat over the next couple of weeks.

Amy Jones, meanwhile, praised the performance of Lightning’s younger players, who she said had “really stepped up in the first 2 games”. In particular credit should go to 18-year-old Sarah Glenn, whose economy rate of 3.50 was far and away the best of all the Lightning bowlers, an important feat in a game that could have been much closer than it was, had just 15 more runs been added by Vipers.

Lightning’s run chase was, as it transpired, relatively straightforward. Though Amelia Kerr was dazzlingly brilliant – her 4 overs (2 of which were bowled in the powerplay) going for just 6 runs and her variations tying both Amy Jones and Elyse Villani in knots – the required run rate never rose above 6 an over. “We didn’t have to force anything, which allowed us to just see her off and then take advantage of some of the other bowlers,” Jones said.

And so it’s Lightning, not Vipers, who go 2 from 2; and Lightning who have now bowled out both the sides they have faced in the competition. We predicted a mid-table finish for them, but maybe we’ve underestimated Loughborough Lightning?

Amy Jones definitely thinks so. “We’ve got a really good squad and our younger players have really stepped up in the first 2 games. We should be a contender [for the title].”

After tonight, it’s hard to disagree.

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11 thoughts on “KSL: Vipers v Lightning – Have We Underestimated Loughborough Lightning?

  1. Lightning picked up their first ever win against Vipers, and it was meaningful that this happened in the same game that was to feature the first occasion that Vipers had been bowled out in the KSL, without batting their full allocation of overs. Lightning lived up to their name in the field, with a bright and energised performance. They bowled superbly, and most impressive of all were the partnerships between their main trio of spin bowlers – Linsey Smith (2/18), Sarah Glenn (1/14) and Kirstie Gordon (2/23) who kept good control and took important wickets, really keeping the Vipers under pressure and their total down some 20 runs short of par. I’d not seen much of Glenn or Gordon, but both looked really good. Of course, they might get “found out” a little as the competition progresses, but the Lightning bowling attack looks good, much better than I thought it would be. Their batting is steady and capable, too. They’re impressive. Based on what we’ve seen so far I think they’ll really challenge the likes of Vipers and Stars for a finals day spot this time around.

    The two signings from the Vipers – Smith and Adams, look like absolute steals at the moment. They’re very good players, who the Vipers look like they’re missing. Kerr is obviously a talent with both bat and ball, but Vipers could have done with some more runs from her today (and wickets as they were probably never going to defend 105 on run-rate) but it was such a pitch for spin that Vipers simply need more spinners to make the most from it. Although Kerr might have been individually just about the most impressive spinner, Lightning had four almost as good.

    Vipers batting was largely a disappointment, not helped by the usual slow, dry pitch at the Rose Bowl which always seems hard to get many runs off. It’s true enough of bounce, but pace off means the ball is difficult to get away. Scores of 120+ are never terrible there. Beaumont’s good form continues (although she had an off-day in the field) but Bates has not looked in nick for a while now and the middle order don’t have the same hitting power as some other sides. Vipers have in previous editions of the KSL relied on their experience and game management which didn’t quite work on this occasion. However I’m sure they’ll have enough to win most of their games. Lightning though are running away at the top and if this continues for another game or two, must be a good bet for at least third. That’s if they can perform as well in their home games. There’s still a long way to go in the expanded league, but it’s a dream start for them especially considering the away fixtures.

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  2. Don’t seem to remember anyone saying in February Wyatt had a problem against spin when she was smashing the Indian spinners for a big hundred. Or in the Ashes when she was getting a hundred against Wellington and the worlds number one ranked spinner Jonnersan.
    More spin is bowled in womens cricket than seam so she is going to get out to it a lot especially in the manner of how she plays.

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  3. Somehow not the best advert for the women’s game as Vipers innings never really got going with the constant loss of wickets. They were stuck in “stodge” mode for much of the time, which is never an easy watch. Never mind, there will be better matches as the tournament progresses.

    That said, take nothing away from a very impressive Lightning performance, particularly with the ball. They deserved the win for the way they squeezed the life out of Vipers’ top order.

    One point I would make is that I got a lot of pleasure out of Lightning’s all round display. Four of the six bowlers they used were non-internationals (granted a situation forced on them a little by Georgia Elwiss’s injury and the fact that they have replace Ellyse Perry with Rachael Haynes), and they also had Georgia Adams coming in at 5 (albeit with the game effectively won), whilst Sarah Glenn opened in their first match on Sunday.

    Vipers, on the other hand, had international players down to number 8 in their batting order. In those circumstances the younger players are either only going to bat for a couple of balls at the end of an innings, or are going to have plenty of time but in a desperate situation. Neither scenario is ideal.

    Fi Morris bowled well enough, but Paige Scholfield only bowled one over and it arguably decided the match, which might prove any number of things – is it because she isn’t up to it, or is she inexperienced in tight situations at this level because she’s not getting chances?

    Whilst Vipers are not doing anything wrong their approach isn’t endearing them to me.

    They already have four full England internationals (Beaumont, Wyatt, Farrant and the absent George), plus three overseas (Bates, Du Preez and Kerr), to which they have added experienced former internationals, McGlashan and Brindle.

    Neither of these players are “up and coming” and I’m wondering what they add to the team or to the competition.

    Yes, it could be said that the younger players can learn from their experience, but what can they learn from those two that they can’t learn from Beaumont, Bates, Du Preez? etc. And besides, Brindle and McGlashan arguably belong to a different era. They played most, if not all, of their cricket, in a semi-professional environment. How far are their experiences comparable to those of a player growing into the international set-up here and now?

    If Vipers can’t perform with seven international players, what difference will another two ex-internationals make? Why not give those places to a couple of promising youngsters – they could have kept Smith and Adams for a start. Give them a proper chance and see if they sink or swim, which is effectively what Lightning are doing.

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    • EDIT – I have categorised Kirstie Gordon as one of Lightning’s four “non-international” bowlers, which is probably unfair. However, by the same token, I wouldn’t put her on the same level in terms of experience as players from the top nations, and I think it’s reasonable to describe her this way, if perhaps stretching a point to make a point!

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  4. I have to agree totally with Richards comments. Also why does Beaumont have to bat 3 and not Bates? If you we’re trying to help Englands cause ahead of the World Cup, then surely you would have Englands T20 opening pair starting the innings.

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  5. it wasn’t a smash-fest (AKA “great advert for the w’s game”) but I actually really enjoyed it personally – Kerr kept Vipers in it, and with another couple of wickets it could have gone either way until quite late in the day – it wasn’t thrilling, but it was tense.

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    • I don’t disagree, Syd. “One for the purists”, you might say. And we see similar games in men’s cricket, e.g. the final ODI v Australia this summer where Buttler got England out of jail.

      You can never guarantee “crash, bang, wallop” cricket, but equally you can’t deny that sort of game is more likely to entice the first-time punter (perhaps with easily bored kids) to become a second, third and fourth-time punter.

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  6. I also thought it wasn’t a great spectacle. The game is designed to be entertaining with the batters hitting boundaries and the fielders throwing themselves around in a desperate attempt to save runs. This is a throw back to an era we are trying to leave. It should be be about enticing new and younger followers into the women’s game not pampering to die hards who hate change.
    Kerr was very good but not under pressure. Both the set batswomen just saw her off which again made it very dull.

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    • Actually the main reason for the low scores was simply that the Ageas is a slow, turning pitch which is hard to score quickly on. It rarely makes for high scoring games. The best you could hope for is a close one.

      The average 20-over innings total at Ageas since the start of the KSL is just 98 (5 previous matches here). So Vipers’ total was, you could argue, not quite so bad.

      And Lightning were never going to take too many risks in a chase if they could do it securely. Don’t forget being asked to entertain crowds is actually quite a new demand for women’s cricket to meet. It has always been about winning, by whichever way is most reliable. It’s still a work in progress for these sides, although they’re obviously capable of better than this.

      It’s a shame that one of the best sides (Vipers) have to play on such a stodgy home wicket, and more matches can’t be played on the best pitches around the country which seem to be: Taunton, Bristol, Oval, Chelmsford, Hove. I wouldn’t mind seeing a match played at Trent Bridge at some point either, plenty of runs there.

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  7. Good to see the unfamiliar names
    (to many outsiders) come to the fore, namely Kirstie Gordon, Sarah Glenn, Linsey Smith all bowling well.
    In addition, the apparently discarded
    (from Academy involvement) Georgia Adams getting three safe catches and fielding well as opposed to some international
    (or British Passport holder!) who did not have a good day in the field. Well done the young Loughborough Lightning players. As well as their international seniors!

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