Mignon du Preez’ 70 off 41 balls, including 13 fours, was the difference between Loughborough Lightning and Surrey Stars at Guildford.
160 looks to be a par score at Woodbridge Road – Surrey themselves chased 120 here last week against Lancashire Thunder in under 15 overs – so 120 off 20 overs felt somewhat light from Surrey.
Batting first, Surrey initially got off to a flyer, with Lizelle Lee smacking Tara Norris for 17 off the second over; but after the fall of Lee (25) and Bryony Smith (14) in quick succession, Surrey found progress harder.
Nat Sciver slapped her way to a slightly scrappy 23 off 27 balls before she became the second batsman after Lee to fall “st. Jones b. Matthews”; but it wasn’t until Mady Villiers (13 off 13) came in at the death, looking to score off every ball, that there was any real impetus to the innings, and by that point it was already a bit late.
Villiers still seems to be being treated more as a bowler than a batsman by Surrey, although England definitely see her as a batter primarily, and indeed she opened the bowling for the Stars, getting the early wicket of Hayley Matthews. With Amy Jones (5) and Chamari Atapattu (4) also falling cheaply, it felt like Surrey might actually be on course to defend their slightly meagre total.
That reckoned without Mignon du Preez.
The former South African captain has always seemed to be more suited to the longer formats of the game – she scored a century in her only Test against India a few years ago – but “Minx”, as she is known, has always been a bit of a “worker bee” and she was buzzing at Guildford today.
“I’ve been getting some starts but I haven’t converted, so today to finally get a conversion and help the team win is really special,” she told us after the game today.
“I’m not known as a person who clears the boundary, but I think in the shorter format there is also a place for somebody who can be busy in the middle and actually hit the pockets and run well.”
Du Preez seems to like Guildford – a year ago, playing for Southern Vipers, she took on the backup role to Tammy Beaumont, scoring 48 to Beaumont’s 62, as the Vipers beat the Stars here.
But this time she was tasked with playing the leading role, with Georgia Adams – who played very nicely, using her feet to get to the pitch of the ball and play some lovely Sarah Taylor-esque drives – riding shotgun on this occasion.
“It is enjoyable being the senior player,” du Preez reflected; “and it is nice when you can back it up with a performance.”
Du Preez’s 70 runs were scored at a Strike Rate of 170 – far in excess of her international “average” of 98.
“I think that is something that I needed to realise – there is space for my type of play within the game – if you place it well you can still get value for your shots.”
“Adding a bit of power to my game is something I’ve been working on – that’s how the game is evolving so I have to keep up! It’s still not where I’d want it to be but it came off nicely today and I’m happy with the result.”
And so she should be. The bonus point win for Loughborough opens up the middle of the table again; and though Western Storm may be soaring ahead – at time of writing they have TWICE as many points as second-placed Vipers – Surrey showed last year that all you need to do is qualify for Finals Day, by the skin of your teeth or not, to be in with a shout of walking off with that trophy. Du Preez is working hard to give the Lightning that shout with performances like today’s.