In a game which mirrored a season in which they have won just 5 of their 10 matches, and yet still managed to qualify for Finals Day, Surrey Stars dug out a last-gasp win against the Western Storm with just two balls to spare, sealing 3rd spot in the group stages and a Bank Holiday trip to the seaside next weekend, where they will meet the Storm again in the semi-final in Hove.
“Everyone’s heart rate was going through the roof,” admitted Stars skipper Nat Sciver afterwards. “Those kind of games you can easily be on the losing side – a couple of things don’t go your way and that’s it – you are out of the competition!”
With the Thunder beating the Vipers at The Ageas, a loss would indeed have meant exactly that – they would have been out.
That they live to fight another day is very-much down to the leg-spinners Dane van Niekerk and Sophia Dunkley, who bowled 4 overs each for 20 and 21 runs respectively – 5 runs an over, compared to the all-but 10 an over everyone else was going at.
“After the first few overs of spin it seemed it was a bit slow and a bit of turn,” said Sciver. “So I thought: we’ve got two leg-spinners, we might as well use them – and they were finding it fairly difficult against them.”
Counterfactually, if van Niekerk and Dunkley had conceded at the same rate as the rest of the Stars attack, they would have found themselves chasing not 158, but a massive 195!
Nonetheless, the Stars still faced, if not a mountain, then a very big hill at the half-way stage – 158 was a good total on that pitch, and chasing it was never going to be straightforward.
As with the bowling, it was two performances rather than one which set them up – Lizelle Lee and Bryony Smith’s opening stand of 90 put them in a strong position at 10 overs; but with Lee’s dismissal at the end of the 10th over the chase stalled dramatically. Between the 11th and 16th overs, the Stars scored just one boundary, and the Required Rate climbed towards 9-an-over.
12 runs off the 17th over bowled by Stafanie Taylor, who was having a bit of a nightmare with the ball after having earlier conceded 22 off an over to Lizelle Lee, put things somewhat back on track for the Stars, before this rollercoaster of a match changed course yet again as first van Niekerk and then Sciver were dismissed with a handful of runs still required.
It was up to Sophia Dunkley and Marizanne Kapp to keep their eyes wide open on the final descent – 9 runs from 10 balls is one of those asks that sounds easy, until you are actually faced with it; but Kapp and Dunkley held their nerve to take the Stars to Finals Day, where they will look to make it 3-from-3 versus the Storm in the semi-final and earn the right to play for the trophy against group winners Loughborough Lightning in the final.
Huzzah! Roll on Hove!
It was a brilliant, close match, we really enjoyed it!
Storm were unlucky but have a chance for payback in the semi. All 3 matches today were close actually, sides batting first posted decent totals around 150-160 but only Stars managed to chase successfully, despite Vipers and Lightning looking good for the win for long periods. Good final day to the league campaign I think.
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What a belting match! I changed my mind at least 3 times during the chase as to which team was “winning”, always a sign of a decent contest.
With hindsight Stars never quite let it get away from them, even through that fallow period when the boundaries weren’t coming. Sciver and DvN managed to find at least one almost every ball. In the modern parlance I believe they call that “taking it deep”, keeping your team in the game as long as possible, believing that “something will turn up”.
Looking back though, some significant contributions and interventions from the less heralded players. I thought Freya Davies bowled well – her secong over in particular made me sit up – as did Dunkley, obviously, to go with her cool head at the end. Gibson’s catch was outstanding, and even Dattani chipped in with that huge 6 in the final over of Storm’s innings. Beyond Smith was another who impressed me more than she has in the past.
Enjoyed my first visit to the Oval but I still wonder if these games aren’t better suited to smaller grounds, with afternoon starts, allowing more of a “festival” atmosphere in a fuller house? I certainly think that would be more encouraging to a family audience as an “event”. In a big ground it feels like a non-event, which is really unfair on the competition and the players. But of course, that will restrict TV coverage so it’s a double-edged sword.
Finals Day? My money is on Stars, who seem to be the team with a bit more momentum, although Lightning have the advantage of only having to focus on playing one match.
Enjoyed my first visit to the Oval but I still wonder if these games aren’t better suited to smaller grounds, with afternoon starts, allowing more of a “festival” atmosphere in a fuller house?
As someone who was at Cheltenham where there was virtually a full house, I agree. It’s worse in the case of ground like the Oval which is such a huge venue. You can still have the TV games at Headingley or Old Trafford but for the non televised games use the festival venues like Cheltenham and Scarborough.
I may be wrong, but I think all the televised games this season (except for Sunday’s match) have been part of double-headers. Consequently the costs of covering the games have been mitigated, if not quite nil. The kit, commentators, etc, are there anyway, rather than having to be brought in separately.
That makes sense, and is probably the price we have to accept by and large for having TV exposure. The alternative is probably playing every match at a ground better suited to crowd numbers (and one wonders whether the crowd for this match might have been bigger at, say, Guildford than it was at the Oval), but having far fewer games – maybe even none outside of Finals Day – televised.
Personally, I think it would portray the KSL (and the Women’s Hundred, assuming that does come to pass) in a far better light to have games at Cheltenham, Southport, Arundel, York and so on televised. But would Sky (or any other broadcaster) be willing to commit to the expense of doing that? Or, more pertinently, I guess, would the ECB be willing to subsidise that cost to any extent?
A good competition this year! Underdogs coming through in many games providing good, competitive matches. There were ample chances given to younger, somewhat unfamiliar names. They will only get better for those opportunities. It is a shame the Kia Super League is finding its collective feet with only one more year to play. It was comforting to see the young Eva Gray bowl and field well for the Stars, after being somewhat pilloried on social media for her dropped catch in an earlier game. On to Hove…!
I know it’s in the interpretation, but I really don’t think she was “pilloried”. She was, though, unfortunate, in having her error single out as part of a wider “rant” by Charles Dagnall about fielding standards, which others (me included) followed up on.
It’s unfortunate that it happened the way it did, and I’m sure Dagnall didn’t mean it as personal (I certainly didn’t). I too thought she bowled well on Saturday.
Wickets : =1st
Average : 3rd
Economy : 5th
Strike Rate : 3rd
How did Kristy Gordon manage to escape the English ‘system’ (or conversely how did the English ‘system’ not spot her) and end up north of the border ?