NEWS: Lightning Seek Replacement Coach As Rob Taylor Departs

Lightning are seeking a replacement for Head Coach Rob Taylor, after the former Scotland and Leicestershire batter agreed to part ways with the region at the end of the 2021 season.

A job advert, placed on 13 October, confirms that Lightning are currently recruiting for the position, with interviews to take place on 22 November and the successful candidate to start in January.

Taylor was appointed Coach of Lightning in August 2020, having previously held the position of Head Coach of Loughborough Lightning in the Kia Super League. Under his leadership, Lightning twice reached Finals Day in the KSL.

However, since the new regional structure was put in place last year, he has struggled to replicate that success. Lightning finished in joint 4th place in the 2021 Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, winning just 3 of their 7 matches, while in the Charlotte Edwards Cup they were bottom of the pile, losing all 6 of their games.

It seems the region are now looking in a new direction in the hope of improving on that performance next season.

ANALYSIS: Death Batting in T20 – How Many Runs Can You Chase?

How many runs can you successfully chase batting at the death (the last 4 overs) in T20 cricket? In theory, even without no balls and wides, 6x6x4 = 144; but in reality no one has ever achieved anything like that. So what have they achieved?

We looked at over 250 matches from WBBL between 2015 and 2020 – all the games for which ball-by-ball data is available from Cricsheet – of which 119 went down to the death.

The highest successful death chase in the data we analysed was 41, but even this was a slight outlier. In reality as the batting side, you need to be chasing 38 or less from the last 4 overs to have a realistic chance of winning the match – any more than that, and the bowling side almost always wins.

On the other side of the equation, if the batting team are chasing 30 or fewer they will almost always win. This creates a Corridor of Uncertainty between 30 and 38 where the match is “in-play”, and the result could go either way.

That Corridor of Uncertainty isn’t constant however – it narrows sharply going into the final over, giving rise to the theory mentioned by Lisa Sthalekar on commentary during recent the Australia v India series that it is actually the penultimate 19th over which is the most important for the batting side.

In practice what this means is that you can go into the second-to-last over needing as many as 19, and the result will still be in-play. If you can then get this down to 8 required off the final over, you will likely win the game; but if not, 9 is almost always a losing ask. In short: if you are the batting side, don’t leave yourself with too much to do in the final over – you might be able to score 11 off the penultimate over, but you probably won’t score 11 (or even 9) off the last!

Interestingly, wickets don’t appear to have a whole lot to do with it. In matches where teams need 9-11 off the final over, they overwhelming fail; while at asks of 6-8 they almost always succeed; yet in both cases the average wickets down is the same – 5.2 – so we are seeing similar late-middle-order batters at the crease. Is it then psychological? Every batter will tell you they “back themselves” to score 9 off the final over; but do they really believe it? Studies of penalty shoot-outs in football certainly suggest a mental element to a similar situation; but the real reasons remain a matter for speculation.

ANALYSIS: Powerplay, “Boring” Middle Overs & Death Run Rates In T20 Internationals

On February 21st 2020, Australia and India faced-off in the opening match of the T20 World Cup in Sydney. Batting first, India got off to a flying start, as Shafali smacked Molly Strano and Megan Schutt for 29 off 15 balls; and although India’s run rate slowed down after Shafali was dismissed right at the end of the powerplay, that explosive start had put India in the position where they would go on to win the game by 17 runs.

A strong powerplay, followed by a weaker middle overs phase, has been a typical pattern for India in recent years, even before Shafali entered the fray. In T20 matches between the “Top 5” (Australia, England, India, New Zealand and South Africa) since 2016, their average powerplay run rate has been 7.2 runs/ over, slowing down to 6.7 in the so-called “Boring” Middle Overs.

This sounds like it should be the norm – after all, it’s in the name “power” play. However, India are actually the only team in the Top 5 where this is the case – everyone else strikes at a lower run rate in the powerplay than they go on to achieve in the middle overs – even Australia, with the likes of Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney up top.

South Africa’s opening match of that same World Cup, against England in Perth, was the complete opposite. Chasing 123, South Africa started at the pace of a funeral march, scoring at a rate of just 4.3 runs/ over in the powerplay; but came back to win the game at the death, scoring at 8.5 runs per over in the last 4 overs. (And actually it was even more “deathy” than that – they only took one run from the 17th over, hitting the required 33 off just the last 3 overs.)

Again this is a typical pattern for South Africa – they score slowly in the powerplay at 5.8 runs/ over, accelerate through the middle overs at 6.6, and then look to really make hay at the death at 7.4 runs/ over – the only team to hit at over 7 at the death.

Of course, to put things in perspective… (or as Indian and South African fans might be forgiven for thinking, “too much f****** perspective“)… cricket isn’t about winning phases; and although India and South Africa won their opening matches of that tournament, both were later beaten by Australia in the knockouts on their way to lifting the trophy at the MCG.

The middle overs might be stereotyped as “boring” but they last as long as the powerplay and death overs put together, and Australia and England, with the highest middle over run rates, ultimately make that count. It is no coincidence that the two teams who score at over 7/ over in the 10 middle overs are the ones with the highest win percentage in games between the Top 5, with a clear relationship between middle over run rate and winning games of cricket all the way down to South Africa, with a middle overs run rate of 6.6 and a win percentage of just 29%.

The middle overs might not have the glamour of the powerplay, or the cachet of the death; but they do, it seems, win you games of cricket.

Team Middle Overs RR Win %
Australia 7.6 69%
England 7.1 63%
New Zealand 6.9 41%
India 6.7 40%
South Africa 6.6 29%

All stats for fully completed (D/L excluded) T20 matches between the “Top 5”, 2016-21

NEWS: Chester Win Title For First Time In Five Years

Martin Saxon reports

Chester Boughton Hall are the champions of the Cheshire Women’s Cricket League for the first time since 2016. They wasted no time in making a statement by beating 2019 champions Didsbury on the opening day, and despite a minor setback in their second match, Boughton Hall maintained their momentum, wrapping up the Championship with a match to spare.

Ali Cutler was undoubtedly a key part of their success, leading them to some of their early wins with telling contributions with both bat and ball. However, as the season progressed, some of their younger players featured more prominently, and it was 15-year-old Gemma Rose who finished as the first division’s leading wicket taker.

The best known name in the Chester squad is the Sunrisers’ opening bowler Kate Coppack, who despite now playing for a South of England elite regional team, still made the journey north to play for the club where she began her career as often as she was able to.

Didsbury won the league last time a full season was played, in 2019, but had to make do with the runners-up spot this time, as well as the Senior Knockout Cup trophy. This was despite going unbeaten in all competitions for three months at one stage, a run bookended by two league defeats against Chester.

Oakmere finished third in the first division and also won the T20 Divisional Competition for the first time.
Despite having both the leading run scorer and the equal highest wicket taker in division one, Stockport Trinity finished no higher than fourth. Ellie Mason made 752 runs over the course of the league season, at an average of 107, smashing the previous individual record. Emma Royle took 20 wickets as the club’s opening bowler.

Second division champions in 2021 were Nantwich, who are now promoted to the top flight for the first time. Quite simply, none of their divisional rivals were able to cope with their talented and varied bowling attack. Nantwich capped an excellent season by reaching the Regional Final of the National Knockout, indeed the performances of all the Cheshire League clubs that entered the National clearly demonstrate how favourably the league’s playing standards compare to other leagues in the region.

Hawarden Park and Woodley were the champions of the two regional division three competitions, Stockport Georgians 2nd XI won division four and Alvanley and Langley 2nd XI won the two division five softball competitions.

TEAM HONOURS 2021

 WinnersRunners-up
Division 1 & League ChampionshipChester Boughton HallDidsbury
Division 2NantwichStockport Georgians
Division 3 WestHawarden ParkChester Boughton Hall 2nd XI
Division 3 EastWoodleyLindow
Division 4Stockport Georgians 2nd XIHeaton Mersey & Cheadle
Division 5 WestAlvanleyLeigh 2nd XI
Division 5 EastLangley 2nd XINorth East Cheshire
T20 Divisional CompetitionOakmere KatsDidsbury Swordettes
Senior Knockout CupDidsbury SwordettesAppleton Tigers
Development Knockout CupNantwich 2nd XIHayfield

INDIVIDUAL HONOURS

 Batting Award – Most RunsBowling Award – Most WicketsFielding Award – Most Fielding Catches & Run OutsWicketkeeping Award – Most Wicketkeeping Catches & Stumpings
Division 1 Ellie Mason (Stockport Trinity)Gemma Rose (Chester BH)*Sophie Connor (Oakmere)Katie Bennett (Chester BH)
Division 2Amy Griffiths (Porthill Park 2nd XI)Sophie Morris (Upton)Molly Price (Oxton)Charlotte Neal (Nantwich)
Division 3 WestNicola Deane (Hawarden Park)Florence Seymour (Nantwich 2nd XI)*Laura Nicholls (Hawarden Park)No award – no ‘keeper attained three or more dismissals
Division 3 EastMichelle Hesslegrave (Lindow)Alicia Peacock (Hayfield)*Alex Wilson (Woodley)Abby Barlow (Woodley)
Division 4Amy Shaw (Heaton Mersey & Cheadle)Eliza Chadwick (Heaton Mersey & Cheadle)Elspeth Headridge (Hawk Green)Charlotte Appleyard (Heaton Mersey & Cheadle)
T20 CompetitionsRoshini Prince-Navaratnam (Didsbury Swordettes)Kerry Hartnett (Oakmere Kats)Sophie Connor (Oakmere Kats)Ruth Lomas (Hayfield)

* Bowling average used as a tie breaker where two or more bowlers tied for total wickets

The above listed players all win an award in recognition of their performances this year.

League President Di Totty has chosen Sarah McCann as the winner of this year’s President’s Award, given in recognition of an outstanding contribution to women’s cricket in Cheshire. Di says that Sarah – now stepping down from the Chair role, having done it for the last 11 years, and for another period back in the 2000s – was “the only choice” for the award this year.

RHF TROPHY: 2021 Bowling Rankings – It’s Got To Be Gordon

After finishing The Hundred as the second-ranked English bowler, Kirstie Gordon put the cherry in the cocktail of her best season since 2018 (when she topped both the KSL and County Championship rankings prior to her England debut) as the leading wicket taker and top ranked bowler in the RHF Trophy. Gordon’s attacking style does mean that she can be less economical than some of her peers, but even in The Hundred we saw scoring rates dropping off when wickets fell, which obviously doesn’t necessarily show up in the wicket-taker’s own stats.

Last season’s leading wicket-taker, and Player of the Match in the final, Charlotte Taylor, ranked 2nd this year. After Taylor’s success last year, some thought she’d be “found out” this season, and to a certain extent that did happen. The availability, and perhaps more importantly accessibility, of analysis footage has improved in the RHF, and you can (as Marie Kelly did) go back and look at every dismissal Taylor made last season; but I think what Taylor’s continued success shows is that in regional cricket there’s still value in the middle overs in simply bowling tightly at the stumps and waiting patiently for the inevitable mistakes to do their work.

Team-wise, Northern Diamonds dominate the upper reaches of the chart, with 4 placings in the Top 10, which I’m pretty sure even the Beatles never managed! Katie Levick continues to be a wicket-taking threat, as she was for years in the County Championship. (Don’t forget to catch up with her hilarious appearance on Women’s Cricket Chat… and not just because she says nice things about us!!)

Beth Langston has also been in excellent form, and she’s probably right when she says that she’s a better cricketer now than when she played for England – her new ball spell in the RHF Final was a masterclass, dismissing both Vipers openers for quackers, and there must be a chance she makes the England A squad this winter in the “senior pro” role, though there is quite a lot of competition in the fast bowling department, with Issy Wong, Lauren Bell and Emily Arlott all likely to feature.

Other likely selections for that ‘A’ squad are Thunder’s Hannah Jones and Stars’ Bryony Smith, who could be a good shot for captaining the side; though not Tara Norris, who has pledged herself for the moment to the country of her birth – the USA.

Player Played Wickets Economy
1. Kirstie Gordon (Lightning) 7 16 3.5
2. Charlotte Taylor (Vipers) 8 13 3.3
3. Katie Levick (Diamonds) 8 12 3.2
4. Beth Langston (Diamonds) 9 13 3.6
5. Katherine Brunt (Diamonds) 3 9 2.8
6. Linsey Smith (Diamonds) 8 12 3.9
7. Issy Wong (Sparks) 8 14 4.7
8. Hannah Jones (Thunder) 7 14 4.8
9. Charlie Dean (Vipers) 4 10 3.5
10. Bryony Smith (Stars) 6 12 4.4
11. Georgia Adams (Vipers) 8 12 4.6
12. Kathryn Bryce (Lightning) 7 10 3.9
13. Jenny Gunn (Diamonds) 6 9 3.7
14. Georgia Davis (Sparks) 4 9 3.8
15. Alex Hartley (Thunder) 7 10 4.3
16. Emily Arlott (Sparks) 7 11 4.7
17. Tara Norris (Vipers) 8 11 4.8
18. Kelly Castle (Sunrisers) 7 10 4.4
19. Teresa Graves (Lightning) 6 9 4.0
20. Sophie Ecclestone (Thunder) 3 8 3.9

Bowling Ranking = Wickets / Economy

RHF TROPHY: 2021 Batting Rankings – Luff At First Sight

Although COVID-19 has by no means “gone away”, and certainly hadn’t done so at the start of the season, when almost all the players were still ineligible for vaccinations in the UK, there was nonetheless a much more normal feel to this season, and that extends to the stats. England regulars (or, soon-to-be England regulars, in the case of Sophia Dunkley) dominated the first three rounds of the RHF Trophy, with three of them – Dunkley, Heather Knight and Amy Jones – making this list (which is designed to reward overall impact over one-off performances) despite only playing three games, where others played as many as nine!

Amy Jones stands out in particular, ranking second after scoring a run-a-ball hundred against Diamonds on the opening day, and then following that up with 163 off 114 balls versus Storm, lifting her overall Strike Rate way above anyone else close to her in terms of runs.

Jones’s performances weren’t quite enough to take her to first place on the list, though she was closer to first than third in terms of ‘points’ – sheer weight of runs was rewarded with a No. 1 spot for Sophie Luff. Having been the best team of the Super League era, Western Storm looked to have carried that forward into regionals last year, but although this season wasn’t a disaster (they lost 3, won 4) there were echoes of Somerset days past, as Luff carried the team, scoring one hundred and three 50s.

The Bryce sisters’ situation was reversed this season. After Sarah ranked 2nd last year and Kathryn 20th, this season it was Kathryn who placed 3rd, while Sarah ranked just outside the Top 20, at 21st. The sisters’ 200-run partnership on the closing day of the group stages against Sparks will take some beating when the history-books of this competition come to be written.

One name we could be hearing a lot more of in years to come, is that of Bess Heath – the Diamonds wicket keeper only played 5 matches after coming back from injury, but still made 6th spot thanks to a very positive Strike Rate. Earlier this season, I wondered who might be England’s Next Top Wicket Keeper, noting that it would probably be a batter who could keep wicket, and Heath’s case is starting to look strong in that regard.

Finally a word on Ami Campbell, who sneaks into the Top 10 after crucial performances for Diamonds in the semi-final and final. Top-scoring for Diamonds in both, for me she was Player of the Match in the final, having turned a game into a contest with her 60 off 73 balls. Aged 30, coming through Durham into a team which is essentially Yorkshire By Any Other Name, Campbell could have been forgiven for thinking she’d be a bit-part player at best; but she made it count when it counted, and you can’t help but wonder what might have been if she’d grown up in Kent or Sussex, rather than Northumbria…?

Player Played Runs Strike Rate
1. Sophie Luff (Storm) 7 417 80
2. Amy Jones (Sparks) 3 282 116
3. Kathryn Bryce (Lightning) 7 353 81
4. Bryony Smith (Stars) 6 252 102
5. Georgia Elwiss (Vipers) 7 265 93
6. Bess Heath (Diamonds) 5 212 112
7. Cordelia Griffith (Sunrisers) 7 273 82
8. Heather Knight (Storm) 3 223 98
9. Emma Lamb (Thunder) 6 237 87
10. Ami Campbell (Diamonds) 8 223 87
11. Sterre Kalis (Diamonds) 9 290 67
12. Sophia Dunkley (Stars) 3 196 95
13. Eve Jones (Sparks) 8 299 62
14. Beth Langston (Diamonds) 9 141 131
15. Danni Wyatt (Vipers) 4 206 80
16. Fran Wilson (Sunrisers) 6 165 99
17. Lissy Macleod (Sunrisers) 7 214 74
18. Georgie Boyce (Thunder) 7 232 67
19. Georgia Adams (Vipers) 8 233 65
20. Holly Armitage (Diamonds) 9 197 77

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

INTERVIEW: Lisa Keightley – England Battling “Mental Fatigue” But Will “Learn and Grow”

Speaking to the media after England’s series win over New Zealand, Head Coach Lisa Keightley was in more of a reflective mood than you might expect, given England’s 200-run margin of victory in the final ODI.

“I think we learned a lot from the series,” she says. “It was nice to finish today and show the potential we have with the bat. It’s always good to get 300 – it gives us more chance when we go out to bat first, if we can put big runs on the board and make it hard for teams to chase.”

But Keightley was the first to concede that England have been far from perfect across the whole series.

“I wouldn’t say we were at our best throughout,” she admits.

The batting unit comes in for particular scrutiny, with Keightley suggesting they were struggling to adapt back to 50-over mode after playing a lot of short-form cricket this summer.

“I think some of the batters had pretty soft dismissals, and I think that was a little bit [to do with] ending the series against India in T20 form, then playing The Hundred. The transition into 50-over was too slow – we were playing high-risk shots too early in the innings and not hitting down the ground.”

“In our middle order at times we lost clusters of wickets, which we need to improve on. There were key moments where we had New Zealand on the ropes, and then we lost double wickets and we didn’t capitalise on the good work we did – we lost clusters of wickets and that stopped the momentum and put pressure on on us.”

Keightley accepts that this is in part because the players are tired.

“The girls need a break,” she says. “We’ve had two international series, and The Hundred in the middle. Where the girls are used to going back into domestic cricket, with The Hundred they are on telly all the time – you’ve got to perform and the games come really quickly – and then you roll straight over and into an international series. I think that’s new for the players and they’re not used to it.”

“We got through it, but I think at times the players have struggled with a bit of mental fatigue.”

Keightley accepts that this is the reality of the new world of professional women’s cricket, and she believes in her players ability to adapt.

“They’ve got to get used to it because it’s only gonna be like that moving forward; and I think we’ll learn and grow from the experience.”

But there was also a hint that the calendar may have to be looked at, promising in future to “make sure they [the players] get the break that they need” after going from an international series into The Hundred and then straight into another international series.

The long end to the summer has however offered the opportunity to experiment a little with both ends of the one-day lineup.

It looks like the 7-batters strategy is one Keightley feels England can take forwards in ODI cricket.

“We experimented this time with playing seven batters and taking five bowlers in, plus Heather which would give us six. I think if we’re going to put pressure on Australia and India, and South Africa and New Zealand, we need to get more runs. And to do that, if we go in with seven batters I think we can be really powerful at the back end of the innings, which we saw today.”

With the bowling it has been more about combinations and matchups.

“Our bowling unit we changed-up nearly every game. We want to make sure that we’ve got all our bases covered when we’re playing different teams, so we looked at different combinations; and it was really good to have five games to do that.”

England will obviously get a little break now, but they’ll be back in training very soon, and Keightley makes it clear that she is looking for determination and focus from the players.

“It will be ‘eyes on the prize’ – working really hard leading up through Christmas, and going out to Australia in January. We won’t get back until March at the end of the World Cup, so it’s game on!”

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND: 5th ODI – The 300

England finally produced the performance we’ve been waiting for all summer, on the last day of the English women’s season in Canterbury – posting over 300 for the first time since the Pakistan series in Kuala Lumpur in December 2019.

Tammy Beaumont led the way with her 9th international century (8 in ODIs and 1 in T20s) after putting on 95 for the first wicket with Lauren Winfield-Hill, who made 43 – her highest score since 2019. Winfield-Hill’s recent record is unspectacular from one perspective – she hasn’t made an international 50 since 2016; but she nonetheless averages 29 in ODIs this summer. To put this in perspective, it is only 10 less than Beaumont, and 7 less than Heather Knight; so the bottom line is that although Winfield-Hill hasn’t made a big score, she has still been pretty consistent since her comeback.

But the key to England’s huge total today was not Beaumont, who played the anchor role and finished with a Strike Rate of “only” 90, but the middle-order, which finally clicked… and clicked biggly.

It started with Nat Sciver, who has struggled for form against New Zealand this month, but came in today with an obvious intent to play positively, and hit 39 off 38 balls – a Strike Rate of just over 100, showing that there were runs to be made here, despite the huge boundaries. Amy Jones followed Sciver to the crease, and upped the ante again, making 60 off 46 balls at a Strike Rate of 130. Then finally with Sophia Dunkley (33* off 25) also going well at the other end, Danni Wyatt turned the volume up to 11 with 43* off 20 balls – a Strike Rate of 215. England added a massive 96 runs in the final 10 overs – by far their most productive 10 over phase of the series – leaving New Zealand with a mountain to climb.

And climb it, they could not. Only Hayley Jensen, coming in at 8 with the game already far gone, was able to hit at over 100, as England’s bowlers just looked to keep it tight and let the massive total do its work, with the White Ferns bowled out for 144, over 200 runs short.

New Zealand will fly home disappointed with their tour, having lost both series against an England side which looked tired at times after a long domestic season. But there are some positives they can take into the lead-up to the World Cup, where they will have the advantage of home soil. Hannah Rowe was the joint leading wicket-taker in the ODI series, with 10 wickets alongside England’s Charlie Dean; and Lea Tahuhu also performed well, including her spectacular 5fer at Leicester. Both could be key players in the World Cup; when they will also of course have Amelia Kerr back in the XI.

For once, it is the batting that will be a worry. Amy Satterthwaite, Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates all showed glimpses on this tour of why they are some of the most revered hitters in the game; and Maddy Green had a good day in Leicester; but overall there simply weren’t enough swallows to make a summer for them with the bat. This doesn’t mean it can’t all come good for them at the World Cup, but it will be a concern.

As for England, they can go out tonight and celebrate the end of a long summer, with their record this calendar year across all formats, including the tour of New Zealand, reading an impressive: Played 21; Won 15; Lost just 5.

Now (finally!) the players can take a holiday and get some sleep, before they regroup in the autumn to prepare to face Australia in the Ashes at the beginning of next year. Next year sounds like a long time away, but there are only 3 months before they’ll need to fly out to quarantine ahead of the series, and that’ll go all too quickly – 2022 is, if anything, going to be an even longer year; and with 3 huge trophies to play for – the Ashes, the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games – England will need to be at their very, very best to challenge for all of them.

Lastly on a personal note, that’s all the live cricket we’ll be covering this year too – and probably for a bit longer than that, as it looks very unlikely we’ll be able to get to Australia or New Zealand due to… The C Word (COVID)! It has been another brilliant summer though, shared with this fantastic crew in the press box (plus a shout out to Rick ‘Cricket Man Wales’ Walton)

… as well as with everyone who follows us on Twitter and reads the site – your interactions, comments and replies are what keeps us going, so a big thanks to YOU for your support, and… we’ll see you back here soon!

RHF TROPHY FINAL: Charlotte Edwards – “I’m Lost For Words”

At the mid point in the English summer, half way through the Hundred, the twin “Southern” teams – Brave and Vipers – were, if not “on top of the world”, on top of all the bits of it that mattered: in first place in the Hundred, leading their group in the Charlotte Edwards T20 Cup; and at the top of the table in the 50-over RHF Trophy.

But disappointment followed in both the Hundred, beaten by Oval Invincibles in the final at Lords, and the CE Cup, knocked out in the semi-final by Northern Diamonds.

And with 10 overs to go in the RHF final, it was looking like a hat trick of finals day defeats was on the cards – Vipers were 126-7, still needing 58 runs to win, with the Diamonds clear favourites.

But 9.4 overs later, it was the Vipers who were walking off to collect the trophy, leaving the northern side to contemplate having finished runners-up in England’s List A competition for 5 consecutive years – as Yorkshire, finishing second in the County Championship in 2017, ’18 and ’19; and as Diamonds, defeated by Vipers in the RHF final in 2020 and now ’21.

“I never ever think we’re down and out, but I knew it was an uphill task,” admitted Vipers coach Charlotte Edwards as her team celebrated with the trophy on the outfield at Northampton. “It was one of the most unbelievable games of cricket – two really good teams who fought hard. Both teams probably thought they’d won it at times, but we’re really thankful to come out on top.”

The keys to the win were Emily Windsor and Tara Norris, who shared an unbeaten stand of 78 to grind out the most unlikely come-back win from 7 wickets down.

“I came down to the dug-out and said ‘We’ve got to take this as deep as we possibly can, and back ourselves’,” said Edwards, “and that’s what they did.”

Tara Norris, speaking with her winner’s medal around her neck, reflected her coach’s words: “I said to Winnie [Emily WIndsor]: ‘We’ve just got to take it deep.’ We knew that if we batted the 50 overs we’d win the game so it was about just holding our nerve.”

For Norris, the experience of losing on finals day twice already this season was a huge motivation: “I knew I didn’t want to feel that way again, so for me it was that grit that I wouldn’t walk off the pitch until the game was over.”

Although the Vipers were chasing a relatively low total, which Norris admitted they would have taken at the start of the day, the Diamonds bowlers didn’t make it easy at any stage, with Jenny Gunn and Katie Levick between them bowling 20 overs, taking 4-51; but crucially Diamonds gambled on bowling both out early, leaving Norris and Windsor to face slightly easier options in the run-in.

“Winnie was getting a little bit stressed,” admitted Norris, “but I just told her: ‘It’s a run a ball, we’ve done this thousands of times, we’ve got this.’ It was just being smart and thinking: Katie Levick and Jenny Gunn have got two overs left, one over left – let’s not take them on – let’s see them off and take the game as it comes and try and attack a different bowler.”

Which they did, taking 10 runs off Linsey Smith in the 49th, leaving them needing just two to win in the final over bowled by Beth Langston. Langston had bowled really well up-top, taking two wickets in her first two overs, but with the ball now old, she couldn’t quite generate the same zip she’d achieved earlier, allowing Windsor to hit the winning boundary off the 4th ball and seal the title.

It was a satisfying moment for the coach.

“I’m so proud of them all – we’ve had a great season, we’ve only lost one 50 over game, and to come out under that pressure to win it… I’m a bit lost for words! It makes all those winter months and all the hard work we’ve done truly worthwhile.”

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND: 4th ODI – Knight Knight, Sleep Tight

England put the ODI series to bed in Derby, completing their highest ever run chase thanks to a heavyweight hundred from Heather Knight.

Knight’s 4th international century was a very on-brand innings – perfectly paced, she did (almost) exactly what was needed – no more; no less. She passed 50 barely acknowledging the milestone, focussing on the job at hand; and only when she passed one hundred did she remove her helmet and share a hug with Danni Wyatt who was batting at the other end.

It wasn’t quite the perfect innings though – Knight’s famous concentration let her down for a moment, holing-out on the boundary with 8 runs still required – and she’ll be kicking herself for it. But despite the loss of Wyatt in the same over, it somehow felt never in doubt for England, with shades of the 2017 World Cup semi-final as Anya Shrubsole came in and clattered the first ball of the final over for 4, although it still took a wide to get them over the line with 2 balls to spare.

That New Zealand were able to set England a record-breaking chase was largely thanks to their tail piling on the runs at the death. With Katey Martin playing the anchor role at one end, finishing on 65*, Brooke Halliday (28) and Hannah Rowe (15) knocked off 43 from 33 balls between them, as the White Ferns hit at 7 runs an over through the last 10.

Hannah Rowe then went on to take 3-19 in her first six-over spell, removing Lauren Winfield-Hill with a beauty, as well as Tammy Beaumont and Nat Sciver, to leave England in a spot of bother at 71-3. Amy Jones has had ups and downs this summer, and she didn’t look at her best today either, but the important thing today was to stabilise the innings at a point where England could have collapsed to the loss, and that Jones did, putting on exactly 100 runs with Knight, to take England into match-winning territory.

Danni Wyatt also made a vital intervention – 27 off 27 balls, and crucially hitting her one maximum at an absolutely pivotal moment. At the start of the 44th over, England still needed 42 from 42 balls. By the end of it, that 6 from Wyatt, plus a 4 from Knight and 3 singles, had changed the equation to 29 from 36 balls – suddenly the pressure was dialled-down, and England were able to get home despite the mini-collapse at the end.

England clearly didn’t envisage Wyatt being part of their first-choice ODI XI coming into this series, but she has made a couple of important contributions now, and England look to have found a formula that works with 7 batters, albeit one that does leave them dependent on Nat Sciver to bowl almost a full quota of overs. Sciver is in a little bit of a slump with the bat, having scored just 34 runs in 6 outings versus New Zealand, but she’ll come good again – she has to, if England are to have any hope in Australia this winter.

Freed from the pressure to win the series, it will be interesting to see if England give Maia Bouchier a run out in the last match, having called her up prior to the Leicester game. If not, Heather Knight hinted in the press conference that people could be released to play in the RHF Trophy final on Saturday, so hopefully it will be one or the other – either an England ODI debut, or a domestic final.

Meanwhile, her Vipers teammate Charlie Dean looks to have secured her spot on the plane to the Ashes in Australia, having now played all 4 ODIs thus far, and taken 3 more wickets today. She’s not just bagging the tail-end Charlies (sorry!), or getting people caught on the boundary either – her wickets today included Amy Satterthwaite bowled and Sophie Devine LBW. There will be challenges to come – the hard part for any spinner is a few months after your debut, when the batters have had a chance to review your footage and make their plans – but she’s made a start, and you can’t ask for anything more than that.