Charlotte Edwards Cup, Western Storm v Sunrisers, The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, 29 May 2022 – Western Storm 169-5 (Luff 78, Knight 34) beat Sunrisers 128-6 by 41 runs
After naming an unchanged team and electing to bat, Luff joined Heather Knight at the crease in the first over of the game when Fi Morris (promoted to open despite Georgia Hennessy’s fifty in that position in the previous match) was comprehensively stumped for 2, and after a sedate start the pair accelerated to take the score up to 35 for 2 after the powerplay. The partnership saw no let up in the scoring rate until it was brought to an end on 69 by Jo Gardner, who had Knight LBW for 34 in the 11th over.
Fran Wilson could only make 6 but her dismissal brought the big-hitting Dani Gibson to the crease, who struck a typically powerful 26 off 19 balls to keep Storm’s momentum going.
Meanwhile, Luff continued her good work, striking a boundary an over between the 13th and 16th before smashing her first six of the innings in the 17th, straight down the ground off Grace Scrivens, then followed it up with a four as she began to eye her century. Two more fours for Gibson made it a 20-run over for Storm.
Unfortunately, Luff was LBW to Kelly Castle in the following over for 78 off 54 balls, but Taunton warmly applauded a fine knock by the Storm captain as she left the field.
Gibson fell three balls later, but Katie George ensured there was no loss of momentum as she struck two fours off her second and third balls. No boundaries were scored off the final over but eight runs were taken as Storm finished on an imposing 169 for 5.
With a fast start needed, Sunrisers promoted Mady Villiers to open the batting, but the experiment didn’t pay off as Claire Nicholas bowled her through the gate for a three-ball duck.
Scrivens, star of the reverse fixture between these two sides with a fifty and a four-wicket-haul, got off the mark with a four in the third over but Gibson had her LBW two balls later.
Former Storm player Naomi Dattani and Gardner, in at four, began a slow rebuild but Gibson picked up her second wicket when she bowled the latter for 3.
Sunrisers captain Kelly Castle joined Dattani at the crease and the pair finally put on a partnership of substance, but the scoring rate was too slow to threaten Storm’s total. Knight was typically economical through the middle overs, while Sophia Smale will be satisfied with figures of 4-0-25-0.
The partnership was worth 56 when it was broken, Dattani slicing a catch to Georgia Hennessy at mid-on to hand George her first Storm wicket since returning to bowling duties in the previous match for the first time since 2020.
The match was now a foregone conclusion but there was still time for a moment of magic as Knight took a stunning, leaping one-handed catch to dismiss Mia Rogers – do seek it out on social media!
Nicholas finished things off with a wicket in the final over to finish with the excellent figures of 4-1-22-2.
Overall, then, a highly satisfactory day for Storm, who secured a bonus point by virtue of winning with a run rate 1.25 times greater than Sunrisers. The win came against statistically the worst regional side, but Sunrisers’ one win came in this fixture last year and who can forget how close the reverse fixture was earlier this season.
I do think it is worth mentioning again that Storm appear to lack flexibility in their batting order; while more than enough runs were scored there could have been more had big hitters Nat Wraith and Alex Griffiths had a bat; perhaps in future Wilson could move down the order when a platform such as that put on by Luff and Knight has been set to maximise time in the middle for Storm’s fastest-scoring batters.
There is much work still to do, with two wins likely to be required from their final two group fixtures – against South East Stars at Bristol on Wednesday and against Central Sparks at Worcester on Saturday – to stand any chance of progressing to finals day. Yesterday’s other result was not favourable for Storm as Stars beat Sparks at Edgbaston to move back into second place, where Storm sat temporarily after yesterday’s win. With only the best second placed team advancing to finals day, an eye will need to be kept on Group B, where in yesterday’s fixtures Southern Vipers easily saw off Lightning while Northern Diamonds won a low-scorer against Thunder.
Storm’s win was part one of a perfect day at the county ground, as Somerset later saw off Essex with ease in the Vitality Blast. The double-header certainly seemed to work, with a healthy number of fans in for the Storm game. More in future please!