Last Ball Drama as Storm Snatch Win in Essex

Western Storm pulled off a sensational comeback to beat Sunrisers by one wicket off the last ball of a pulsating clash under lights at Chelmsford on Wednesday. This was despite the all-round efforts of Grace Scrivens, who scored 56 runs and took four wickets for the home side.

Dan Kingdom

Dan attended his first Somerset match in 2009 and has been a member since 2010. He was born in Taunton and now lives in Birmingham but tries to attend as many Somerset matches as possible, home and away. He has a bachelor's degree in Geography and a master's degree in Planning, both from the University of Reading. He now works in GIS. Away from work and cricket, he enjoys travelling and reading.

Charlotte Edwards Cup Group A, Sunrisers v Western Storm, 18th May 2022, Western Storm 164-9 beat Sunrisers 160-5 by one wicket off final ball

Storm won the toss and chose to bowl first. There were three changes to the side, most notably England captain Heather Knight replacing Fi Morris at the top of the order. Wales left-arm spinner Sophia Smale and Somerset all-rounder Niamh Holland came into the side for spinners Nicole Harvey and Claire Nicholas.

Sunrisers were heading into this match off the back of a loss to South East Stars on Saturday, still with just one win in competitive cricket since their formation in 2020 – against Western Storm at Taunton in last year’s Charlotte Edwards Cup.

After two runs came off a tidy first over from debutant Smale, Scrivens struck four consecutive fours off Lauren Filer in the second over, then Cordelia Griffith repeated the trick off Smale in the fourth. Sunrisers were flying at 48 for 0 off four overs, but a mix-up resulted the run out of Griffith for a quick 26.

Knight, who bowls more frequently for Storm than for England, kept the run rate in check through the middle overs, conceding just 22 runs from a full complement and taking the wicket of Mady Villiers.

The wicket of former Storm player Naomi Dattani for 13, taken by Georgia Hennessy, was key, but Scrivens rotated the strike effectively while striking the occasional boundary. She was finally dismissed in the 18th over by Alex Griffiths for 56 off 42 balls, but at 140 for 4 Sunrisers were well placed.

Kelly Castle took two fours off Griffiths, but Storm did well to concede just 10 runs off the last two overs, Dani Gibson closing out effectively to finish with handy figures of 1 for 25 from four overs. Sunrisers closed on 160 for 5, which looked a highly competitive score.

Storm’s reply started brightly, with two fours in the first over, but the cheap losses of Hennessy and Sophie Luff soon put them on the back foot.

The experienced pair of Knight and Fran Wilson sought to regroup, and they each hit a boundary in the fifth over. But Storm suffered another setback when Wilson was stumped for 7 off Abtaha Maqsood’s first ball of the evening.

Gibson joined Knight and the pair continued to attack, the former striking five fours in a handy knock of 27 off 20 balls. Knight hit Storm’s first six of the evening, but both fell in the space of three balls to Scrivens. Storm were 74 for 5 off 11 overs, requiring 87 off 9 overs with the England captain back in the changing room having scored just 27 – at this point Sunrisers were surely daring to dream of that elusive second victory.

Nat Wraith and Katie George had other ideas, each taking a six off the 12th over, both straight down the ground. The 13th over was quieter but 13 runs came off the 14th, including two fours and helped by two wides.

Two more fours came off the 15th but, crucially, another wicket fell just as Storm were starting to believe again – Wraith was stumped for 27 off Scrivens, her fourth wicket. 44 runs were needed off 30 balls.

Villiers conceded only four runs off a tight 16th over, before Katie George released the shackles with three fours in seven balls. But just as the momentum was swinging to Storm, it swung back to Sunrisers – George was stumped off a wide from Jo Gardner, then Holland got a top edge and was caught by the same bowler for a golden duck. 21 runs were now needed off 12 balls.

Villiers conceded just six runs off the 19th over, and Lauren Filer was run out. Last batter Smale strode to the crease to join Wales teammate Griffiths, who was Storm’s main hope of seeing them home.

Scrivens, the star of the evening, was entrusted with the final over, 15 to defend (note that a tie is a tie). But her off-spin was immediately despatched over midwicket by Griffiths for six. Suddenly it was on again for Storm. Singles were all that could be taken off the next two balls, but Griffiths was back on strike with seven needed from three.

She stepped to leg and looked to strike it high over the infielders on the off-side, knowing the outfielders were on the leg-side. She didn’t time it but it just evaded the fielder and trickled towards the boundary; Maqsood was there to pull it in from the rope while the batters sprinted three.

Smale on strike, four needed from two balls. Villiers could be seen on the live stream advising Scrivens. The delivery was flat outside off; Smale stroked it away for a single to get Griffiths back on strike.

Three runs were needed from one ball. More conversation between Scrivens and Villiers before the ball was bowled – in the event, a full toss. Griffiths could only bunt it to long-on, where Villiers gathered as Storm’s batters turned for their second. But the throw, oh the throw. It was, in the words of the live stream commentator, “wild”. Wicketkeeper Scarlett Hughes scampered to her left in vain to stop the ball. Two fielders converged behind her to try to save it. But it was gone, the ball raced to the boundary and Storm had – somehow – won the match.

This was a chastening experience for Sunrisers and particularly for Villiers. It may well be that Sunrisers’ inexperience at winning games of cricket contributed to this loss. They were also involved in close finishes last year where they failed to get over the line. While they will be gutted at throwing away several winning positions in this match, their job will be to take the positives from the fact that they got so close. Villiers was visibly devastated after her error; it will be the job of the team’s coaches to help her pick herself back up; she is, after all, one of the best fielders in the game as shown on the international stage.

Storm can learn from this experience, too. After striking the final ball down the ground, Griffiths completed her first run, but inexplicably hesitated before going for the second. If Villiers’ throw was on target, that hesitation may have cost Storm the tie. Smale, to her credit, didn’t stop to think – she was halfway through her second run as Griffiths was just setting off. Smale’s attitude was the correct one – when it is the last ball of a limited-overs innings, run until you are run out or until you have won the game. If you keep running you increase the chance of fielding errors such as that committed by Villiers. Cricket teams in general are surprisingly bad at this despite the fact that we are in an age of advanced data analytics.

The result leaves Storm third in Group A, while Sunrisers sit bottom. Storm’s next match is against Charlotte Edwards Cup holders South East Stars at Beckenham on Saturday, starting at 11am. Entry is free so do attend if you can, but a live stream will be available in any case.

The scorecard of this dramatic can be found here