Martin Saxon reports
Loughborough Lightning 157-7 (20), Lancashire Thunder 74-6 (13.4). Lightning win by 35 runs on D/L/S
Once again Lancashire Thunder went down to a heavy defeat when playing at Old Trafford. This was the fifth occasion on which they had played on Manchester’s Test ground, and the first four resulted in defeats by 95 runs, 33 runs, seven wickets and 55 runs. This one can certainly be added to that list, with Thunder a long way behind on Duckworth/Lewis/Stern when the umpires took the players off.
All but one of these five matches have been televised and three were double headers with men’s Blast games, so Lancashire’s elite women’s team really haven’t made the most of their ‘showcase’ matches. That said, here the crowd was well down on the 875 who attended the only other standalone Thunder match at Old Trafford, which was back in 2016. We’re so used to women’s cricket moving forward that sometimes we need to remind ourselves that things can sometimes go in the opposite direction. The previous results at ‘headquarters’ may have put off some Lancashire CCC members from attending tonight?
Thunder enjoyed an almost perfect powerplay at the start of the match but nothing went their way thereafter. Those who have played or managed any sports team that hits a bad patch will know the feeling, and even if you enjoy some periods of being on top, things always seem to go wrong in the end.
After the first five, Loughborough Lightning’s batting line up did not look fearsome, on paper anyway, so when a wicket for Kate Cross in the second over was followed by one for Sophie Ecclestone in the third it seemed this might be Thunder’s day. After two early wickets, Chamari Atapattu chose to dig in initially, then the moment she played an attacking shot she top edged a catch.
Lightning were 18-3 after six overs and few would have expected them to post a daunting total, but they managed to score at almost 10 per over thereafter. Things started to go wrong when Alex Hartley came into the attack – sadly this World Cup hero is not enjoying the best of times of late. KSL rookie Alice Dyson also bowled some nervy overs where she struggled to find her length, and this helped to give Lightning vital momentum.
Georgia Adams may not have hit the headlines with big scores, but those who follow the tournament closely may have noted that she had only been dismissed once. Her 50 from 33 balls with three sixes is possibly her career highlight to date. Georgia Elwiss was second top scorer with 38 and Kathryn Bryce made 32 from 18 balls, adding 82 in seven and a half overs with Adams.
Ecclestone’s 15 dot balls from 24 deliveries and overall figures of 3-17 was yet another demonstration of her world class talent, and while she may have taken some punishment in her final over, Cross’s 2-23 was also a fine effort. The other Thunder bowling analyses were less than perfect though.
Tahlia McGrath hit two sixes and a four in the fifth over, but then contrived to hit a rank full toss to mid off in the next, even though it took a fine one handed effort from Atapattu to dismiss her. Sophia Dunkley was then sent back to the pavilion two balls later as Loughborough started to get on top.
Sune Luus played some impressive strokes but her 30 runs were made at less than a run a ball, and Harmanpreet Kaur struggled for 15 balls before departing for just seven.
Kaur’s dismissal at 65-3 after 11 overs marked the point at which the required rate hit ten per over, and this was probably the point at which Thunder lost hope. 16 balls later the score was 74-6 and the innings was showing every sign of ending with a whimper when the weather brought about an early finish.
Kirstie Gordon finished with 3-18 and Hayley Matthews with two wickets for one run, and Thunder also struggled to score against Sarah Glenn and Elwiss.