An overcast day at Guildford Cricket Club ended in a thriller as Lancashire squeaked home by just 1 run against Surrey, having looked dead and buried for much of their opponent’s innings.
A late spell from Emma Lamb eventually saved the day for Lancashire, the off-spinner finishing with figures of 2-39 and, crucially, yielding just 8 runs from her last 4 overs, which included a maiden.
Lamb was finally entrusted with delivering the last over of the day: Surrey needed 8 from it but were only able to pick off singles, and – left needing 3 from the last ball of the day for a win, 2 for a tie – Lamb carefully removed the bails to deny her opponents an attempted second run before Lancashire huddled to celebrate.
The match should have been Surrey’s for the taking: chasing 242, they had initially reached 136 without losing a wicket, with openers Bryony Smith and Kirstie White both reaching half-centuries – Smith in particular slamming the Lancashire bowlers around the park.
Smith eventually fell for 86, sending a straightforward return catch straight into the hands of off-spinner Georgie Boyce. White, though, took on the anchor role and hung around until the 39th over, departing when Surrey needed just 47 runs from the last 11 overs.
Number 3 Aylish Cranstone then notched up a stylish half-century of her own, punishing one Kate Cross over for 14 runs – all still looking hunky dory for Surrey.
That was until the reintroduction of Lamb to the attack in the 44th over, a strategy that paid dividends. The off-spinner firstly had Cranstone caught in the deep; then in her next over was instrumental in the run-out of Kira Chathli, the ball ricocheting off her hand into the path of Alice Dyson at mid-off with Dyson achieving a direct hit at the non-striker’s end.
The very next ball Lamb removed Eva Gray with a smart caught and bowled, leaving Surrey 5 down and with 12 runs still needed from the final 4 overs – ultimately too big an ask for their young middle order.
Earlier, Lamb had also chipped in with the bat, hitting 23 (34 balls) as she put on 50 for Lancashire’s first wicket with opening partner Eve Jones.
Surrey’s captain Hannah Jones eventually broke through, having Lamb caught at point after she tried to push the run rate along. Lamb’s dismissal, though, brought Georgie Boyce to the crease, a position she occupied until the 46th over.
She was able to successfully farm much of the strike, and used the pace of Surrey’s quicks to her advantage, taking 13 runs off one Danielle Gregory over and punching the only six of the Lancashire innings over deep square leg.
Surrey clawed back some momentum (and some bowling bonus points) by continually making inroads at the other end, with Boyce herself eventually dismissed in the 46th over, falling short of 3 figures after Kirstie White took a straightforward catch at midwicket off the bowling of Bryony Smith.
Alex Hartley was then run out off the last ball of the day, leaving Lancashire 9 wickets down and giving Surrey a 4th bowling bonus point – which could yet prove crucial in the fight to top Division 1.
Proceedings were watched by a keen crowd of about 100, including a group from local school Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Reigate, as part of wider Women’s County Cricket Day celebrations around the country. The match was also live-streamed by Surrey CCC on kiaoval.com, in a brilliant innovation for the women’s county game.
The win sees Lancashire go 2 from 2 in the opening weekend of the County Championship after they beat reigning champions Hampshire in yesterday’s match, making them early runners in the battle for this year’s title.