Cross delighted Thunder are still in Finals Day hunt
Bobby Cross has revealed his pride at Lancashire Thunder’s “dramatic improvement” in this summer’s Kia Super League as they prepare for one last shot at a Finals Day berth.
The Thunder travel to the Ageas Bowl on Saturday evening (7pm) to tackle bottom side Southern Vipers knowing they must win and hope Surrey Stars lose at home to champions Western Storm.
That would give the Red Rose third spot and a maiden Finals Day appearance at Hove on August 27.
But whatever happens in the final round, 2018 has been a triumph for general manager Cross and all involved at Emirates Old Trafford.
After all, in the first two years of the KSL, they won only one game in 10.
This year, they have won four of nine and sit three points behind Surrey with four or five, including a possible bonus point, on offer for the win.
“Whatever happens on Saturday, it’s been a dramatic improvement following the last two years,” said Cross, who watched the Thunder complete the double over Yorkshire by winning at Blackpool last time out on Tuesday.
“At this stage in the first two years, we were looking forward to the competition ending given our position. Now we’ve got it all to play for in the last game.
“I’m not sure anyone at the start would have given us a chance, but we all believed we could make an impact. I’m really proud we have done.
“We said it was a better competition for being 10 games rather than five because our girls could develop into it. Funnily enough, we played some of our best cricket in the first four games.
“It’s great it goes down to the last round. If we play well, we have a chance.
“It’s out of our hands given that if Surrey win they’re through. But the pressure’s on them to go and do that.
“I guess the pressure is off us.
“No doubt, you’d rather have the points that Surrey have. But they have a heck of a tough game playing Western Storm. Equally, ours is tough against the Vipers.
“Given we would have been out with a loss at Blackpool, it’s a bonus to still be in it.
“We’ll go down there, have a good couple of days and see what happens.
“Our expectations at the start were to do well, but it was also to make a huge improvement on the first two years.
“Whatever happens on Saturday, we’ve shown people we can play and that the young girls are developing, which is what we think this competition is about.
“The likes of Ellie Threlkeld, Emma Lamb, Eve Jones, Georgie Boyce, the ones who are wanting a future in the game, they’ve shown they can play at this level.”
New coach Alex Blackwell’s influence has been key along with new overseas duo Nicole Bolton and Harmanpreet Kaur.
However, Cross is keen to highlight the work done by the local girls and the Thunder backroom staff involved in 2016 and 2017.
He added: “A lot of people will look at Alex coming in and point to her being the catalyst for the change in fortune.
“And that’s fair in the sense that she’s been excellent.
“But there has also been a lot of good work done by people who were here beforehand.
“The thing I’m really pleased about is that it’s not just been one or two big named signings who have pushed us on, it’s the homegrown girls who we’ve invested in.
“And the girls themselves have invested a lot of time into getting better.”