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.