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.