KSL Finals Day – All-Stars Stars Sneak Up The Inside To KSL Glory

Going into the final fortnight of the 2018 Kia Super League, the Surrey Stars had lost more matches than they had won – standing third in the table, with just three wins to four losses, with one game rained-off. In contrast, the Storm and Lightning were dominating the group stages, with 6 wins apiece.

And yet, come Finals Day it is the Stars who have triumphed – winning their last two group matches to qualify for Finals Day in third spot, and then defeating both the Storm and the Lightning to lift the trophy at Hove.

“We were waiting for the game where everything clicked,” said final centurion Lizelle Lee afterwards, “and today it all just came together!”

Lee of course was the difference in the final itself – as losing Lightning captain Georgia Elwiss acknowledged:

“Lizelle played out of her skin – it really was a special knock and someone like that is hard to stop on a good pitch,” Elwiss said.

But over the course of the tournament, different players have stood up for the Stars – particularly Nat Sciver in the semi-final today, who made 72*, without which they likely wouldn’t have made the final. With 252 runs at a Strike Rate of 144, she has moved her game onto a different level this season – scoring runs at a tremendous Strike Rate without seeming to take the kind of risks that others do to maintain that sort of momentum.

With the ball, Marizanne Kapp has taken 11 wickets, but perhaps more importantly in T20 cricket has done so at an Economy Rate of well under 6-an-over, which is pretty remarkable in a tournament where par scores have soared well past 7-an-over.

Sophia Dunkley has also come up with some crucial performances – her 50 against the Vipers on the opening day was in a losing cause, but her 3-18 helped beat the Storm at Cheltenham, and she held her nerve to hit the winning runs in the final group match too. Will it land her in the West Indies in November? Probably not – it would be a huge surprise if Mark Robinson included any uncapped players in the squad – but it will certainly have given him notice that she is knocking on the door for a contract when her uni studies end next year.

The likes of Lee, Sciver, Kapp and Dunkley wrote the headlines then, but we shouldn’t forget the performances of some of the younger players either – Eva Grey, Bryony Smith, Mady Villiers, Grace Gibbs et al all did their bit, and fully deserve their winners medals. They’ve given everything they could over the past months and years to be the best cricketers they can be – they didn’t do it for the fame, and they certainly didn’t do it for the money – but they did it! They are Stars too, and this is their win as much as it is that of the bigger names you’ll read about in the papers tomorrow.

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9 thoughts on “KSL Finals Day – All-Stars Stars Sneak Up The Inside To KSL Glory

  1. Today we’ve seen 2 very good performances by Surrey Stars. Congratulations to them. All that promise has culminated in a big pay off. They peaked at just the right time, and what was a struggle to qualify at times, and a hard-fought semi-final victory, ended in a very comfortable win in the final.

    For Western Storm, they couldn’t quite get revenge for the 2 group stage results in which Stars came out on top, but nearly managed it, in a tight finish. Freya Davies was impressive in her bowling spells, as was Danielle Gibson. And Fran Wilson was electric in the field, taking a fine diving catch and affecting the brilliant run-out of DVN. In the chase Priest and Knight started well, but a big turning point was Dunkley’s dismissal of Knight. Dunkley seems to have a bit of mystery about her bowling, and certainly a golden arm. I’ll have to see it again but it looked like Knight was just beaten by one that didn’t really turn. Fran Wilson played what must be one of her best innings, with an excellent unbeaten 58 but the run rate was just too much for the others to manage. But make no mistake, Nat Sciver (72*, 2-21) was absolutely superb in this match, and it was chiefly down to her that Stars managed to come out on top.

    The call that Lightning made to bowl first after winning the toss, was 50-50. I think it might have been wiser to bat first. Sure, there was the fact that they preferred to chase and historically chasing teams had fared better on finals days. But you have to weigh that up against Lightning themselves failing their last group-match chase, plus the double-whammy that a) Stars had just won batting first and b) Stars had just been out in the field for 20 overs, so doing that again was probably not what they wanted to do having just eaten lunch.

    I just don’t think Lightning really turned up today. Everything went wrong for them from the start, pretty much. They were a bit wayward with the ball, and loose in the field. And then three of the top four failed badly, and the required run rate was too much, when almost every shot they were playing aerially in anger, was being caught in the outfield.

    It started quite well I suppose, Stars only reaching 44-2 in the powerplay. It could have gone either way at that point but Lightning allowed Stars to get too many runs too quickly, much of that down to Lee’s phenomenal hitting ability, with Sciver providing capable support this time. The spinners didn’t really offer as much control as they had in earlier matches, being hit for 5 sixes (6 if you count Gunn as a spinner, which I do). It may have been due to her unfortunate injury, but Devine bowled all over the place as well. Of the bowlers, only Smith and Elwiss really had any type of control. Stars ended up notching 183-6, as much as 30 runs too many.

    It was going to have to be a special performance from Lightning to chase that down, but honestly they never really looked like doing it. If it wasn’t finished as a contest after the fourth over when Villani was out, trying to give herself too much room, it definitely was after Haynes gave her wicket away in the seventh. She had just dismissed Dunkley’s first ball for four but it was a classic case of being too greedy too soon, and she took liberties against a bowler she hadn’t seen enough of.

    Kapp and DVN were wonderful, removing most of Lightning’s top order with only Haynes and Elwiss offering much resistance. Gunn and Glenn showed some fight as the game started to peter out but at that point Surrey must have felt they’d won it already. The bowling of Mady Villiers was a big plus point for them as well. I felt sorry for Elwiss and Lightning because there’s not much you can do, when so many players perform under-par like today. Still they have plenty of positives to take from the campaign overall.

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  2. Stunning performance by the Stars. The South Africans all justified their inclusion in the squad and got me thinking: in a league like this, with 3-4 overseas players per team, could there be an advantage in having all of them from the same team? They might know each other’s game better, gel better in the dressing room, and even see their team as a kind of SA-lite and feel as though they are also playing, a bit, for national pride.

    Also worth mentioning that we kept them all, as well as Taylor and Sciver, for this final day, whereas the other teams lost huge stars like Perry and Mandhana towards the end of the league: so they qualified comfortably, but were playing their weaker/less experienced teams on the day.

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    • other teams lost huge stars like Perry and Mandhana towards the end of the league: so they qualified comfortably, but were playing their weaker/less experienced teams on the day.

      Indeed. It may be me being a churlish Storm fan but if Mandhana had played I think the Storm would have won that Semi Final. Then again, they must have known she was going back for the Indian training camp.

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      • I agree that losing this season’s top player made a huge difference, and probably the one you suggest. As I understood it, it was only part-way through the league that the training camp, and hence Mandhana and Kaur’s absence at the end, was announced.

        In any case, I am not sure what Storm could have done about it: pretty sure they’re assigned players rather than bidding for them.

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  3. Very good day at Hove with three of the four innings providing plenty of entertainment. It was a shame the final turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.

    I think Western Storm will feel that they let that one go in the field and the bat. From 72-5, they really should have pushed home their advantage though I’m doing Nat Sciver a massive disservice because her innings was outstanding, I can really remember her offering a chance to the Storm. It was more so with the bat, after Fran Wilson took 14 off the one over, her and Heather Knight seemed to go into their shells which lead to Knight having to force the situation and losing her wicket

    From a Storm perspective, Freya Davies bowled very well, I wonder if she’s an outside bet for England’s T20 squad. Danielle Gibson was good again, I’ve been impressed with her all tournament, she’s very raw but she’s got something about her, she’s a bit quicker than she seems and takes some of the batters by surprise. Star for Storm was Fran Wilson, I’ll admit I’ve always been a sceptic about her batting but today she was magnificent and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. As expected her fielding was top drawer, I can’t decide whether the catch off Taylor or the Van Niekerk was better.

    For the Stars, it was all about Nat Sciver. Not only was her batting excellent but she lead from the front with the ball and her captaincy was excellent. When Wilson and Knight looked like they were going to win it, she made the right changes at the right time and put her trust in Sophia Dunkley which paid off.

    The final summed up T20 for me. It doesn’t matter how good you’ve been, how tight a unit you’ve operated throughout the group stages, if a big hitter goes mental, there’s nothing you can do about it. Lizelle Lee was unstoppable although Loughborough did well to pull it back. Unfortunately, as soon as Sophie Devine went, the game was over. I thought it was interesting that three of the top four (Devine, Amy Jones and Rachel Haynes) for Loughborough got out a ball after hitting a four.

    For the Stars, Marizanne Kapp was outstanding. The ball she got Elyse Villiani was perfect. I don’t rate Sophia Dunkley as highly as some here, she was very disappointing with the bat but she bowled well in both games. Unlike a lot of spinners in the women’s game, she gives it a lot of air. It was also nice to see a youngster like Mady Villiers doing well. It was again good captaincy by Sciver to let her have a go a the tail and it paid off.

    Finally, I doubt the ECB are reading this but please, please don’t get rid of this wonderful competition. If we have to have this Hundred nonsense, surely there is a way to fit a T20 tournament in there as well. It was my first finals day today and my first trip to Hove, barring unforeseen circumstances I hope to go to next years. Don’t make it the last one!

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  4. We wished for a close final similar to the first game, but it was not to be!
    The Loughborough team were blown away by Lizelle Lee with an outstanding power Innings. As mentioned by others above, the bowling lines and length of the Lighting attack were a bit wayward, this was both the younger and most experienced players. However, Loughborough outperformed all expectations to get to the final, when many had predicted they would be lower end of the table at the culmination of the season. Overall the KSL has improved this year, just as it is about to end! Bigger scores, good use of the younger, unsung talent, performances of quality from the professionals, reasonable attendance at games.
    Let us hope even more home grown, young talent will be included next year, and even higher scores.

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  5. The injury to Sophie Devine did not help the Loughborough cause, but they must be applauded for their overall season achievements. Smaller set up than all the other teams, (even though the national centre of performance), I do not think they have any particular allegiance to a county side, as some of the other KSL teams do. Although at the outset was the KSL not supposed to be favoured to any county? Agree with all the above, great innings from Lizelle Lee giving Surrey Stars a deserved title. Hope for even higher scores in the last KSL next year?

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  6. “It would be a huge surprise if Mark Robinson included any uncapped players in the (WWT20) squad”.

    Would it?

    About the potential squad selection for the WWT20. It will be interesting to see what happens, since 2 players that have recently been in the team (George and Farrant) are currently injured and may or may not have fully recovered by November (I hope so but you can’t be sure).

    Robinson has said that he knows 10 of the players that have already booked their place, and that leaves 5 free spots if the squad size is as per normal. Assuming that the “top XI” is the team that played the T20 tri-series final this summer, that does leave quite a few contracted England players without a definite place. Can we assume they’ll be ahead of any newbies in the pecking order? How many of these actually performed better in the KSL than the likes of Dunkley, Gordon, Freya Davies, ADR, Linsey Smith etc? Well the best were probably Fran Wilson and Lauren Winfield.

    Elwiss, Gunn, Hartley and Marsh were good at times but not spectacular, and often aren’t favoured in the international T20 format. They are probably better in the 50-over format. To me that does leave a couple of bowler/all-rounder spots potentially open.

    If the 2 injured players recover in time, I’d agree that we probably won’t see many if any new daring selections. But if one or both of them can’t make it, our bowling could be a bit light and we’ll need extra options.

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