Southern Vipers win in the Charlotte Edwards Cup Final was not unexpected – they’ve looked the strongest side in the competition, and were the only team to go unbeaten in the group stages.
But the ease of victory perhaps was a surprise: they won with a massive 25 balls to spare, despite Charlie Dean (absolutely rightly) playing total “percentage cricket” at the end, scoring 7 off 17 balls (a strike rate of just 41) because the only risk by the time she came in was losing wickets – the runs (and consequently the strike rate) no longer mattered – if they stayed in, they’d win!
This was partly because of the flying start Danni Wyatt had given Vipers in the chase, with her 20 off 10 balls (a strike rate of… gets calculator out… fires up Excel… yes… 200!) but also because Sparks had set them a distinctly sub-par total of just 109.
How do we know this was “sub-par”? Well Vipers were on their way to a total of around 140, despite the slow-down at the end, so that’s suggestive that there were a lot more runs out there than 109.
But hadn’t the semi-final shown that it was hard to score runs on this pitch? No! From a Stars perspective, all the semi-final had shown was that you’re always going to struggle if you lose your top order for next-to nothing and finish the powerplay 25-5!
And from a Sparks point of view, the semi-final had shown a hint of what was to come – a lot of dots!
The numbers suggest that Sparks have been the strongest batting side in the competition.
In particular, Sparks batters let a dot go by just once every 2.9 balls – that’s a dot-ball percentage of 34%.
In contrast, in the semi-final, they played out 61 dots off 115 balls – a dot ball percentage of 53%.
In the final, batting first, they should have been piling on the runs, but possibly spooked by their middle-order collapse in the first game, their numbers 4, 5 and 6 chewed up balls like they were Wrigley’s Spearmint, and despite a death-rally they ended up with a dot ball percentage of (again) 53%.
In other words, Sparks ended up 20 runs short of where we’d expect them to be on this season’s form; and they were 20 crucial runs which would have made the game much more interesting.
Of course, cricket matches are won and lost in a hundred different ways – it’s one of the things that makes it such a fascinating game – and others have pointed to the number of wides conceded by the Sparks bowlers.
In the group stages, Sparks actually had the best numbers across the 8 teams on wides – conceding a wide every 34 balls – a wide percentage of 3%. In contrast, in the final, they bowled 11 wides (conceding 16 runs) at a percentage of 12%; so that certainly didn’t help!
But then again, if they’d been defending a bigger total, perhaps they wouldn’t have felt like their only route to victory was blasting Vipers out, and the bowling would have been more controlled?
And that comes back to those dots.