NEWS: Smriti Mandhana & Harmanpreet Kaur To Miss KSL Finals Day

The ECB have confirmed that both Western Storm’s Smriti Mandhana and Lancashire Thunder’s Harmanpreet Kaur will miss KSL Finals Day, due to an Indian training camp.

The Western Storm are already through to Finals Day, and Smriti has been a key player for them – with 416 runs at an average of 69, she has scored nearly half of the Storm’s runs this season. (The competition’s next-highest run-scorer is Heather Knight with 272 runs, which emphasises just how vital Smriti’s contribution has been.)

Lancashire Thunder are currently 4th in the table, so will only make Finals Day if they win and the currently 3rd-placed Stars lose their last group match on Saturday. Although Harmanpreet has been a bit hit and miss – there have been some dodgy run-outs and a couple of ducks – she also won them two games, against the Stars at The Oval, where she closed-out the game with 34* at the death, and against the Diamonds at Blackpool, when she struck 74 off 44 balls to top-score.

The scenario, which mirrors the situation faced by the Sydney Sixers in the 2017/18 WBBL when they lost Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk for the latter stages of the competition, will certainly leave many fans – who may have bought tickets hoping to see Smriti in particular – disappointed, and perhaps reinforces the need for a “window” for these tournaments.

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KSL: The Race For 3rd Place

With the top two teams – Storm and Lightning – already qualified for Finals Day, today is a crucial day for the rest in the race for the third and final spot at Hove.

Here’s how they currently stand.

Team Played Won Lost N/R NRR Points
1. Storm 8 6 1 1 1.796 30
2. Lightning 8 6 2 0 1.325 28
3. Stars 8 3 4 1 -0.59 16
4. Thunder 8 3 5 0 -1.144 13
5. Diamonds 8 2 5 1 -0.334 11
6. Vipers 8 2 5 1 -0.528 10

All 4 “racing” teams play each other this afternoon – Vipers v Stars & Thunder v Diamonds – and right now, all 4 could still qualify.

Although the Stars have their destiny in their own hands, they can only qualify today if they win with a bonus point and the Diamonds win without a bonus point.

Any win for the Stars will however knock the Vipers out of contention.

Any win for the Thunder will knock the Diamonds out too whatever happens (because Thunder would then have an unassailable 17 points); but the Thunder could lose and still go through if other results go their way at the weekend.

KSL: Stars v Lightning – Stars Win Ugly At Guildford

In a rain-reduced 13-over match at Guildford, Surrey Stars got their 2018 KSL campaign back on track, winning in convincing if not particularly graceful fashion.

With Lightning 35-1 after the (shortened) 4 over powerplay, and Nat Sciver’s first over of the day having been punished for 19 runs, the away side initially looked on course for a good total.

Things then went from bad to worse for the Stars as Grace Gibbs, having seized the wicket of Amy Jones, went down hard attempting to field off her own bowling and had to be stretchered off to Guilford Hospital with a serious-looking knee injury.

Before play resumed, captain Nat Sciver took the opportunity to bring her side back into a huddle and try to set them back on course. “It was horrible to watch [Gibbs’ injury],” said Sciver after the match, “but we had to rally as a group.”

Rally they did, as wickets fell at regular intervals – Sophie Devine and Elyse Villani both caught in the deep; with the Stars also enacting two tidy run outs in the final over – and Lightning were eventually restricted to a total of 100-7.

Stars had won the toss and deliberately chosen to chase, with Sciver putting full faith in her batsmen: “We’ve had quite a bit of success chasing in the competition so far and we’ve got a long batting line-up,” Sciver said.

Yet the 62-run partnership for the first wicket between Lizelle Lee and Bryony Smith was built more on good fortune than good cricket. Smith was dropped off successive Devine deliveries when on 5*, top-edging to Jones behind the stumps and then put down by Rachael Haynes at extra cover; she was subsequently dropped AGAIN by Villani at long on, when on 21*. When the speaker system blasted out Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer after she was finally dismissed by Jenny Gunn for 31 in the 8th over, it seemed rather apt.

Lee was the woman of the hour, fresh from her 37-ball 70 in Stars’ previous match v Thunder on Tuesday, and one of the players in the competition most capable of taking full advantage of the 13-over situation. Certainly Syd and I, sitting on the long off boundary, were very conscious that we might well be in her “firing line”!

But she, too, enjoyed her fair share of good fortune, also put down when still in single figures; and while she did eventually produce some of the huge boundaries she is renowned for, including one six over deep midwicket that nearly ended up in Woodbridge Road, today’s 28-ball 48 was probably overall still more slog than skill.

Nonetheless a win is a win and, crucially, today’s result (along with Thunder’s loss to Storm over in Taunton) takes Stars back up into third position, and well in the running to claim their spot at Finals Day.

KSL: Thunder v Stars

Martin Saxon reports from Old Trafford

A winning margin of 55 runs is certainly a ‘thrashing’ when it comes to T20, and by triumphing by this margin Surrey Stars moved within one point of third-placed Lancashire Thunder. It was of course a much-needed victory for the Stars, while things are looking a bit more precarious for the Thunder, especially as they now face away trips to both of the top two sides.

When Sophie Ecclestone was deservedly named Player of the Series in the recent international tri-series, there was at least one batsman who had not been bamboozled by her bowling. South Africa and Stars opener Lizelle Lee is certainly a superb player of spin bowling, and it’s easy to imagine that she was licking her lips here against a Lancashire side who have only one seam bowling option, where once again Old Trafford’s playing area was akin to a postage stamp in size.

After a relatively sedate powerplay, Lee actually decided to accelerate once the boundary was well patrolled. Even her most ardent admirers may not suggest that the South African possesses an array of elegant shots, or that she scores all around the ground, however although her wagonwheel here would have showed a significant number of runs hit over ‘cow corner’, it really didn’t matter. Thunder posted the boundary riders in the right areas, but it didn’t seem to stop her at all – Lee just hit the ball way over their heads! Her blistering innings of 70 from just 37 deliveries included six maximums, and even Sarah Taylor was reduced to simply working the ball for singles to give her partner the strike.

Lee is certainly a major asset to any team at any level, but if she was English (or Australian), would she be rejected as an international player due to a perceived lack of athleticism?

After Lee had finally holed out in the deep, her brute force was replaced by some superb stroke making from both Taylor and Dane van Niekerk, whose combination of dabs, sweeps, ramps and more conventional shots such as drives and cuts ensured that the scoreboard operators remained busy. Taylor made 51 from 37 balls and although van Niekerk only made 19, she had certainly played her part in entertaining the crowd and the watching TV audience.

Five wickets fell in the last three overs, so the final total of 167-8 was lower than might have looked likely just a short time earlier. Emma Lamb added to her growing reputation as a spin bowler by finishing with 2-12 – she bowled two overs at the start before Lee had opened her shoulders, and one more after she had been missed. Kate Cross (1-27) and Ecclestone (2-32) also did a reasonable job, but Danielle Hazell and Alex Hartley suffered badly against Lee’s onslaught.

So Thunder needed 168 to win, which they shouldn’t have regarded as impossible, having made just 15 fewer on the same ground four days earlier. However, their reply never really got going – Nicole Bolton and Eve Jones came out and displayed an uncanny knack of hitting the ball straight to the fielders for most of the first five overs. 

Whether wickets were falling or not, the scoring rate remained pedestrian – Bolton and Jones took 9.4 overs to add 55 for the first wicket, then in the remaining 9.4 overs, the entire Thunder team were dismissed for the addition of just 57 more.

If the run chase was looking tough when Harmanpreet Kaur came to the wicket first down with the required rate around 11, it looked even harder when the Indian start batter had once again been run out for a duck. On this occasion she never even got to take guard; once again the call from her partner was ambitious to say the least, but once again Kaur seemed extremely slow out of the blocks.

Amy Satterthwaite came in at four looking like she meant business, striking her first two deliveries for four. She was the only Thunder batsman to record a strike rate of appreciably over 100, but fell for 21 from 11 deliveries, having tried in vain to single-handedly give the innings some momentum.

Van Niekerk’s 3-20 and Bryony Smith’s 2-9 from two overs were the best of a series of excellent Surrey bowling figures.

This is the fourth time Lancashire Thunder have played what might be described as a showcase fixture at Old Trafford, and all four have resulted in defeat. Indeed only the first of this year’s matches at the Test ground could be described as being in any way a competitive match. Seeing the home side thrashed year on year is not encouraging the people of the North West to come back and watch more elite women’s cricket, and the eerie silence amongst the crowd during the stuttering run chase was far from pleasant to experience.

KSL: Vipers v Diamonds – Diamonds’ Faith In Thea Brookes Shows KSL Bridging The Gap

Yorkshire Diamonds may have fallen short today in their match against Southern Vipers, but they will take plenty of comfort from the performance of Thea Brookes.

Promoted up the order to number 4 in the absence of Lauren Winfield with (would you believe it!) food poisoning, Brookes entered the fray today with her side 15-2 and in danger of an embarrassing collapse.

But Brookes appeared unfazed, racking up 45 off 36 balls at a strike rate of 125.00, in an innings that included 7 boundaries.

“I’m so proud of the fact that the coaches can trust me to go up the order,” she reflected after the match. “It allows me to play with freedom, and that for me is a win in itself. I’m thrilled to have that opportunity.”

The highlight of her innings was a six sent back over the head of Suzie Bates to bring up 50 for the Diamonds, in an over that was punished for 13 runs and sent Vipers’ captain and senior bowler Bates out of the attack until the 18th over.

It was an impressive performance from a player who has generally hit big lower down the order in KSL, often when the result was already a foregone conclusion, but before today had never batted in the top 4 in the tournament.

“I went to the coaches and said: ‘I’m more than happy to come up the order slightly, to try and relieve a bit of pressure off the internationals,” Brookes said. “If they can come in with runs on the board it’s a bit different than if we’re losing a couple of quick wickets early.” Tactically, her promotion made absolute sense: before today in KSL 2018 Brookes had a strike rate of 164.77, higher than almost all her teammates.

Brookes was also complimentary of Katherine Brunt’s captaincy, after she stepped into the breach with Winfield out of the reckoning. Brookes had not yet bowled an over in KSL 2018 when Brunt today chose to entrust her with the 17th, at a crucial juncture in the Vipers innings.

“I thanked her in the changing rooms after,” Brookes said. “Just thanked her for the trust. It’s like having a pat on the back saying, ‘we believe in you mate, you can do this, have the ball and have a go’. It’s belief in my ability. It was so nice.”

That trust was repaid handsomely when Brookes conceded just 4 runs from her over and also picked up the key wicket of Mignon du Preez, bowling her round her legs as Vipers failed to make hay, from that over at least.

Will Brookes retain her spot at number 4 when Winfield returns to the fray? Brookes certainly hopes so: “If I can bat at 4 every game, happy days!” she said.

And from a Diamonds perspective, it also makes sense. Because in a tournament where scores above 160 are becoming the norm, it is players who can bat like Thea Brookes that are the future.

KSL: Vipers v Diamonds – Bell Sets Sail To A Promising Future

After a couple of near-misses, the Southern Vipers finally got things back on track with a win against the Yorkshire Diamonds in front of a big double-header crowd at The Ageas.

With opening bowlers Tash Farrant and Katie George both out for the rest of the season – Farrant after breaking her collarbone against the Lightning at the weekend and George with a persistent knee niggle – the Vipers handed a professional debut to 17-year-old Berkshire quick Lauren Bell; whilst at the other end of the order, the absence of Danni Wyatt for personal reasons meant Tammy Beaumont moved up to her preferred opening slot.

Beaumont made the most of her opportunity – hitting a Player of the Match-winning 64 off 37 balls – though she will be kicking herself that she got out tamely again, presenting Thea Brookes with catching practice as she failed to clear the ring.

The dismissal of Suzie Bates had already slowed down the run-rate, from 11 at the end of the powerplay to 8 at the half-way mark, and after Beaumont’s dismissal the Vipers engine was beginning to stutter; but they somehow rode the clutch just enough to avoid a total breakdown, leaving wickets in hand for a thrash in the last couple of overs.

And thrash they did – Paige Scholfield, playing in considerable pain with a broken finger, hitting 22 off 10 balls, including consecutive sixes off Katie Levick in the final over, to leave the Diamonds needing 160 on a ground which isn’t always that easy to bat on.

As Suzie Bates reflected afterwards:

“There was a point in that game where it could have gone either way, but those two sixes were massive for us – to get that score up to 160 was probably the winning of the game.”

The total still had to be defended though, and it was up to a slightly make-shift bowling unit to step up, with Lauren Bell opening the bowling on her debut.

“Lauren Bell may not have got an opportunity had Tash Farrant and Katie George remained fit,”  Bates admitted post-match.

“Sometimes you have a player like that and you maybe protect them a little bit, but today we had no choice – she was our front-line seamer – we had to open the bowling with her and she responded.”

Bell got hit for 11 off her opening over, as Beth Mooney looked to attack; but she later came back for a two-over spell which went for just 6 runs and was crucial in pushing the Diamonds’ required rate up towards double-figures. She might have finished wicketless, but she also closed her account with an overall economy rate of just 5.66 – bettered on the day only by Amelia Kerr.

Afterwards, Bell admitted the first over hadn’t gone entirely to plan:

“I hadn’t practiced loads against lefties and I was thinking ‘Don’t bowl too straight!’ but I’ll learn from it, and I think I came back strong so I’ll take it.”

“In the second two overs I went full and went for yorkers – I wasn’t thinking to bowl as quick as I could – just getting my lengths right.”

With the Diamonds chasing runs, Suzie Bates was able to clean up the tail and celebrate bowling the Yorkies out to claim the win.

“The last two games we’ve been in positions to win and haven’t been able to do it, so it’s just so pleasing!” Bates said afterwards.

As for Bell, Bates clearly believes she has a promising future ahead of her:

“She was brilliant – someone with that sort of physique, swinging the ball in – if she keeps tracking in the right direction she could play for England one day.”

We know we are biased, but we’d disagree only with the word “could” – if she keeps tracking in the right direction she will play for England one day!

MATCH REPORT: Cavender stars as Scotland claim back-to-back wins over Germany

Jake Perry reports from Meigle Park

Match One: Scotland Women U21 161-6 (E Cavender 56, T Gough 2 for 24) beat Germany Women 54-8 (C Scott 2 for 6, I Farooq 2 for 6) by 99 runs (revised target)

Match Two: Scotland Women U21 139-5 (E Cavender 58*, T Gough 2 for 7) beat Germany Women 64-8 (T Gough 20, M McColl 2 for 9) by 75 runs

The old cliché of four seasons in one day was in evidence in Galashiels as Scotland Women U21 completed two comprehensive wins against Germany in the T20 double-header at Meigle Park. On a day which began in cloudy humidity and ended in hot sunshine, punctuated by a heavy shower, two magnificent half centuries from sixteen-year-old Emily Cavender put the icing onto what were two excellent performances from Gordon Allan’s young side.

The changeable weather added to the challenge of batting on what was already a tricky looking surface. From the outset several deliveries popped up off the soft, green track, and with the hot sunshine drying the pitch from the earlier rain, too, Scotland’s greater experience was to tell in both matches as Germany struggled to get their innings going.

In the first game of the day a superb partnership of 91 between Cavender (56) and Megan McColl (28) had formed the backbone of Scotland’s imposing 161 for 6. Sarah Bryce’s 23-ball 41 set her side on their way before Germany struck back with four quick wickets to peg the hosts back to 63 for 4, but with Cavender and McColl subsequently taking control, Cavender bringing up her first half century of the day off 36 deliveries, Scotland posted a total which was never likely to be threatened.

Left-arm seamer Tina Gough (2 for 24) bowled particularly well for the visitors, nipping the ball in off the soft, green surface, but with Scotland’s batters regularly finding gaps in the field the bowling side struggled to put their opponents under any sort of pressure.

Germany’s run-chase got off to the worst possible start as Karthika Vijayaraghavan (1) cut Laura Grant (1 for 3) straight to Ailsa Lister at point, and with Scotland captain Abtaha Maqsood (2 for 16) and Isobel Couttie (1 for 13) claiming early wickets, too, the visitors were soon struggling on 19 for 3 after nine.

The first ten overs of the reply featured no boundaries as Scotland tightened the screw, and despite the weather intervening to reduce Germany’s target to 154 off 19 a further flurry of wickets confirmed what had already become an inevitable outcome. Charis Scott (2 for 6) took two in an over as Germany lost three with the score on 51 before Ikra Farooq (2 for 6) put the seal onto a comfortable win with the wicket of Asmita Kohli (1) off the final ball of the innings.

After their 99-run win earlier in the day Scotland lost Scott (0), Grant (4) and Lister (16) within the first seven overs of the second match after being asked to bat first once again, but Bryce (28) and Cavender then picked up the pace with some aggressive batting. Bryce cleared the rope at midwicket for the first six of the day and although the wicketkeeping all-rounder was to fall two balls later Cavender continued the assault as Scotland pulled away. Cavender’s second fifty of the day arrived off only 27 balls and featured nine fours as the Scots finished on 139 for 5 off their twenty overs.

Faced with another target in excess of a run a ball Germany again faltered, losing Stephanie Frohnmeyer (0) in the first over as she mistimed a catch to Maqsood. Bianca Maes (2) soon followed, McColl (2 for 9) claiming her second wicket, and when Maqsood effected the run out of Karthika Vijayaraghavan (8) in the eighth, Germany were again in trouble at 19 for 3.

All-rounder Gough (20) and Anuradha Doddaballapur (11) offered brave resistance but after the two fell in close succession, the latter run out after hesitation in going for a quick single before a sharp catch by Maqsood at midwicket to dismiss Gough, Germany’s innings fell away quickly to confirm Scotland’s second win of the day.

“I’m very happy,” said Abtaha Maqsood. “We hadn’t really played together as a squad before, our first game together was only on Wednesday, but the way we all came together and played as a team was really nice to see.

“It was tricky to bat out there with the pitch and it was pretty windy too but we still got two good scores on the board. Bowling into the wind wasn’t easy so I’m really pleased with our performances.

“It’s been a good day. Everyone contributed and for Emily in her first game to get two fifties is amazing.”

“It’s been a great learning experience for us today,” said Germany captain Anuradha Doddaballapur. “Most of us don’t get to play on grass pitches in Germany so conditions-wise this is something for us to learn from.

“I think we did pretty well in our bowling and batting. It was good to play against spin because again we don’t have the chance to do that very often in Germany and that’s something we want to work on. There are quite a few young girls in the squad as well, for some it’s their first tour with the national team, so I think overall it was a great experience for everyone. It’s lovely to be able to play in Scotland, too, although it’s hard not to be distracted by the scenery!”

Germany’s tour now continues in the north of England.

“We’re based in Ashington for the next four or five days,” she said. “We have two games against Northumberland Women and then against Durham. It’s been really good for us and for German cricket, to see the standard we are pitching against.”

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Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

KSL: Thunder v Storm – Match Thoughts

From Martin Saxon at Old Trafford

Western Storm made it four wins from five by beating Lancashire Thunder at Old Trafford, in doing so ending the home side’s own winning run of three matches. The Storm look to have enough in all departments to really challenge for honours once again.

Thunder’s 153-7 may have looked more than respectable on paper, but here the boundaries were ridiculously short, even by recent standards in elite women’s cricket. Coupled with a lightning fast outfield it meant that scoring boundaries was relatively simple, and the total was certainly below par.

Most of the batsmen who had starred in previous Thunder matches failed to fire here. Eve Jones scratched around for four in 14 deliveries, Nicole Bolton hit two boundaries but failed to extend her stay at the crease, Harmanpreet Kaur was suicidally run out after only one delivery and Ellie Threlkeld and Emma Lamb failed to get out of the teens.

The only score of note came from Amy Satterthwaite, who made her second 50 of the tournament, finishing with an unbeaten 85 from 57 deliveries with 11 fours and three sixes.

Claire Nicholas had another good game with the ball, conceding 21 in her four overs, and it was noticeable that most of Storm’s non-international bowlers also kept Thunder’s scoring rate down, with Naomi Dattani and Freya Davies also impressing.

Kate Cross again struck in the first over for the Thunder, removing Rachel Priest, but her second over saw her hit for successive sixes by Smriti Mandhana. Although Stafanie Taylor’s 33 not out provided good support, thereafter it really was the Mandhana show as she reached her century off just 60 deliveries, hitting two further maximums, and finally departed when only two were required.

Much has been made of the successes of the Thunder spin quartet in previous matches, and here Lancashire actually tried six spin options in a vain attempt to break the momentum of the innings. Their only chances came in the 10th over, bowled by Sophie Ecclestone, when Mandhana was dropped twice – neither was straightforward but they were catches you would hope international players would have held on to.

As it was, the Indian’s mighty innings led the way as Storm got home with seven wickets and ten balls in hand.

KSL: Lightning v Vipers – Are Vipers the Unluckiest Team in the Super League?

In their previous KSL game, against the Diamonds, Southern Vipers fell agonisingly short in their run chase, reaching 163-9 after Diamonds had racked up 175-5. It was the highest ever aggregate score in a KSL match, but it was the Vipers who were on the wrong end of the result.

Today, with Loughborough Lightning needing 11 runs off the final over and Suzie Bates tasked with bowling it, you’d probably have had your money on Vipers to defend their substantial 172-run total. Nonetheless it was Lightning who triumphed, Elyse Villani’s six finishing things off with two balls to spare.

With just 1 win in their 6 opening matches, and Finals Day now all but out of reach*, some have questioned whether something has “gone wrong” for Vipers this season, and asked when they might start putting in the performances that would enable them to turn things around. In actuality, this is a side who have now put in two consecutive match-winning performances, but haven’t won either contest. T20 is a format of the game that can hang on the way the cards fall: and sometimes the luck just doesn’t go your way.

Today, after Sara McGlashan and Arran Brindle’s 71-run partnership ensured a strong finish to their innings, it definitely felt at the halfway stage that Vipers had their fangs into their opponents. Then, after Lightning had motored away to reach 100 in the 11th over with only 2 wickets down, it felt again that things had swung back in Vipers’ favour – Brindle making the crucial breakthrough to have the in-form batsman Rachael Haynes caught at point, just after reaching her half century.

But somebody at Vipers has clearly offended the cricketing gods. Two balls after the Haynes wicket Villani (who went on to reach 61*) was inches away from being run out; but survived by the skin of her teeth. Then, coming back to bowl her next over, Brindle was forced to leave the field one ball in after Georgia Elwiss pelted the ball straight back through her hands – Brindle dislocating a finger in her attempt to take the return catch. Finally, with Fi Morris beginning the following over, Tash Farrant dived to save a boundary at deep backward square and couldn’t get back up again. She eventually left the pitch with the help of medical staff, appearing to have dislocated her shoulder.

With 2 sub fielders brought on, Vipers were still in with a chance, especially while Lightning proceeded to throw away several more wickets – Elwiss run out; Georgia Adams and Jenny Gunn holing out and caught in the deep when singles would have sufficed – but Villani, fortunately for her team, kept a cool head.

And so Lightning continue what looks to be their inevitable charge towards Finals Day, in a performance that has surprised everyone. But maybe luck has played a role there as well? It was only two months ago that we found out that Ellyse Perry had dropped out of this year’s KSL. Her very-last-minute replacement? None other than the heroine of the hour, Elyse Villani…

*We think it is still mathematically possible for Vipers to reach Finals Day, but it would rely on several matches being rained off and all other results going their way.

KSL: Stars v Thunder – Harmanpreet Keeps Her Cool

In a dramatic match which went down to the penultimate ball, Lancashire Thunder came out on top thanks to the cool head of Harmanpreet Kaur, making her debut 3 games into the KSL campaign after bureaucratic issues delayed her arrival.

Off strike with 10 required from 5 balls, Harmanpreet clearly decided that the wicket of Ellie Threlkeld was a sacrifice she was willing to make – running a single which looked suicidal even before Threlkeld slipped. The Lancashire keeper’s face looked like… well… thunder as she walked back to the dugout, but it was ultimately justified as the Indian T20 captain hit a huge 6 to win the match with a ball to spare.

“I had that belief if I got two boundaries we would be able to win the game,” Harmanpreet said afterwards. “The person I like to take responsibility is me, and I’m really happy today that whatever expectations our team had on me, I did that.”

“There were some visa issues going on – there was a strike, so I wasn’t able to get my passport as soon as possible; but I’m really happy to join the team now and happy my team is doing well.”

From a Surrey perspective it was a disappointing afternoon, after a massive innings of 95* from Nat Sciver had put them in a match-winning position at the break. But the home crowd of over 2,000 – many likely tempted by the opportunity to come to just the first match of this double-header for as little as £1 for kids – still got to see an exciting game of cricket in a brilliant atmosphere; and full credit to Surrey for making that happen on a mid-week afternoon, which probably isn’t the ideal time to get bums on seats.

The result puts the Thunder firmly in the top half of the table, defying many expectations – including ours! With the much-fancied Vipers going down to another defeat, this time at the hands of the Storm, the table is perhaps starting to take shape, and on this form you’d now be mad to bet against the Thunder rolling on to Finals Day.