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.
Yes a good finals day at a lovely venue at Northampton.
The semi proved to be a bit more exciting than the final and SE Stars staged a good fightback in that semi, but fell just short in the end.
Vipers are the strongest with the likes of Wyatt, Dean, Elwiss, Bouchier and Bell either in/or just out of the full squad (or on the periphery).
Add Georgia Adams and then, of course, Anya a useful addition too!
The Stars “stars” were not always available in their campaign and the injury to Tash Farrant was a blow for them too. For them to have won last year and finish 3rd this year is a great achievement for a comparatively young and less experienced squad.
Sparks fought their hardest but a bit of mental as well as physical tiredness crept in. They too have fewer “stars”, namely England linked players, but put on a good performance. It
would be nice to separate semis from the final and play separately, but congestion of fixtures would make it awkward.
However, a good competition overall.
Well done to Vipers who undeniably deserved to win the comp as the strongest team. I can’t help feeling a little disappointed by the finals day though – here we had a good pitch and the 3 best teams, and although the semi was a low scoring thriller, neither side batted very well in truth and Sparks carried that on into the final.
It was probably a 140+ pitch but the game that emerged was slightly anti-climactic in the end. None of the Sparks batsmen really played that well, even Amy Jones, although I think the middle order did get especially bogged down. Glenn and the impressive Perrin livened it up at the end a bit, but it was disappointing to only just trickle over the line of the runs made in the semi, where Stars had been reduced to 25-5 in the powerplay and almost certainly weren’t going to win from there.
The final was all a bit one-sided. Sparks maybe should have bowled first – as they did in winning the semi – that’s their real strength, I feel. With a seam attack to match or even surpass Vipers’ own -Wong, Arlott and Potts all with pace, height or both, they unsettled both the Stars and Vipers top order a bit. In the final when Vipers fell to 69-4 there was a brief window of opportunity whereby if Sparks could have dried up the runs, and prized out a couple more batters, they were still in the game.
But Vipers were too good, basically. Bouchier and McCaughan played excellently and didn’t give Sparks a sniff. Dean closed it out well to round off another incredibly impressive performance from her too.
Looking forward to the SA series, after a dodgy start against Ireland they seem to be getting in the groove now. Shame they’re missing so many top players though.