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Hartley spins Thunder to victory

Hartley spins Thunder to victory

The skipper backs up Nat Brown's excellent 52 with four wickets to seal a thumping 72-run win over the Lightning

A captain’s performance par excellence by slow left-armer Alex Hartley helped Thunder to their second victory in the Rachel Heyhoe-Flint Trophy when they defeated Lightning by 72 runs at Aigburth.

Hartley brought herself on when the visitors were making brisk progress in their pursuit of 189 but then took four wickets for eight runs in a magnificent ten-over spell than included five maidens to leave Thunder totally in charge of the game.

Lightning were eventually dismissed for 116 with No4 Abi Freeborn the last wicket to fall, bowled by Hannah Jones for 28

Thunder’s dominance was far removed from the situation in the early afternoon when Lightning were 55 for one in the 15th over. However, the crucial wicket of the in-form Sarah Boyce was taken by Natalie Brown, who yorked the in-form Scot for 24 and the stage was set for Hartley to bamboozle the other batsmen.

The skipper needed help, though. Two outstanding stumpings by Ellie Threlkeld removed Kathryn Bryce for 22 and Lucy Higham for a duck before Hartley’s brilliant diving caught and bowled dismissed Nancy Harman for 4. Hartley’s last wicket was that of Shachi Pai who was leg before wicket for seven and leg-spinner Liberty Heap’s three for 34 completed a fine afternoon for Lightning, who had lost their three previous games. Jones finished with two for 20 from 8.1 overs.

In the first innings of the match Thunder posted a clearly competitive total in their 45 overs thanks to a half-century from Natalie Brown and useful contributions from both Georgie Boyce and Rebecca Duckworth.

The total was also boosted by the addition of 37 runs from wide deliveries, although several members of the Lightning attack bowled good spells, notably Kathryn Bryce, who took four for 38, and her fellow new-ball bowler Sophie Munro, who was wicketless but conceded only 27 runs from her ten overs. And in the mid-innings interval Thunder’s top order may have been pondering how many more runs they would have scored had not their effort been crippled by two run outs.

Bryce removed both Laura Marshall and Laura Jackson in her first four overs and Alicia Presland trapped Threlkeld leg before wicket for four before Brown and Boyce began to repair the innings with a 23-run partnership which took the score to 73 for three in the 19th over.

However, Brown then rightly sent Boyce back when the opener called for a single, only to see her partner fail to beat Higham’s accurate throw and depart for 32. The same fielder later accounted for Brown when she had made 52 and was attempting a similarly unwise single.

That run out ended the Thunder top scorer’s excellent seventh-wicket partnership of 59 with Duckworth and the Thunder tailenders then scrambled a further 29 runs with Duckworth, who was smartly stumped by Freeborn off Bryce for 27. Higham had earlier conceded only 17 runs from her seven overs of off spin.

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