Match Preview: Sunrisers v Thunder
The Thunder are firmly in the mix for silverware in the Charlotte Edwards Cup. And they are going full tilt at it this weekend
Charlotte Edwards Cup, Group Two
Saturday August 28, 2.30pm
Wantage Road, Northampton
Two wins from four T20 games so far has left them with nine points.
With two games remaining, against the Sunrisers at Northamptonshire’s Wantage Road tomorrow (2.30pm) and Northern Diamonds at Chester Boughton Hall on Monday, they are second in the group - three points behind the Diamonds.
There are 10 points to play for, including bonus points, with the top team in each of the two groups guaranteed qualification for Finals Day at Southampton on September 5. The best second-placed finisher also qualifies, though that looks more likely to come from Group One.
Western Storm also have nine points, but Thunder’s net run-rate is superior to both theirs and that of the Diamonds.
Defeat against Storm at Cardiff on Wednesday - by seven wickets with 14 balls to spare defending 101 - clearly dented their chances. But it far from ended them.
A win against a Sunrisers side who have only won one game since the start of regional cricket last summer will set up a blockbuster final day of action on Bank Holiday Monday and a potential winner takes all clash at Chester.
“In the winter, we set out some goals for the season and talked about developing as a team. Winning wasn’t quite at the top of our agenda,” said wicketkeeper batter Ellie Threlkeld.
“But we sat down as a squad earlier this week and spoke about shifting our focus to having a real winner’s mentality because of the position we’re in.
“We maybe weren’t expecting to be in the thick of it. But how good’s that? We’re winning games of cricket.
“We’re trying to get better and enjoy our cricket. At the same time, we’re in a good position - even with the loss the other day - and we need to get used to that winning mentality.
“Everyone’s really excited. Who knows, two wins from two and we could be on our way to Finals Day.”
Against Storm at Cardiff, Thunder made only 100-9 batting first, including Threlkeld’s 22 from number three. Emma Lamb’s 28 at the top of the order helped them reach 32-0 in the fifth over before a costly collapse.
“We got off to a flier in the powerplay but kept on losing wickets, unfortunately,” said Threlkeld.
“If we’re being honest, we were 20 or 30 short with the bat. There were quite a few soft dismissals.
“We didn’t play smart enough cricket. We didn’t even get one a ball. Going forwards, we just need one person to get a big score and extend our partnerships.
“But I thought we were good with the ball. We extended the game as long as we could.”
If the Thunder can get to Finals Day next weekend, fantastic. If they can win the Charlotte Edwards Cup, even better!
But, if not, you could argue that 2021 has already been a success even though they are less likely to challenge for 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy success when that competition resumes next month.
A number of players have already developed significantly and put in notable performances.
Lamb is the obvious one having posted consistent runs at the top of the order and added wickets with her off-spinners.
Left-arm spinner Hannah Jones has impressed in both Thunder and Manchester Originals colours and played for England A earlier this week.
Eighteen-year-old seamer Sophia Turner returned a stunning 1-4 from four overs in her first regional appearance of 2021 in a T20 win over the Diamonds at Emerald Headingley in June.
Seamer Laura Jackson’s stock has also risen. There are others to add to that list.
“It’s been great we’ve had plenty of performances and haven’t just relied on one player,” said Threlkeld. “And a few of them aren’t contracted. So it shows what a full winter of training can do.”
The Thunder are aiming to complete the T20 double over Sunrisers after a 71-run win at Emirates Old Trafford at the start of last month. Lamb scored a superb 111, while Threlkeld added a busy unbeaten 26 in a second-wicket stand of 117.
Threlkeld, aged 22, added: “It was great to watch Emma’s hundred from the other end. The way she was going, it was quite easy to play the way I did.
“After a tough start to the season, it’s looking up for me. Hopefully, with the amount of cricket we’ve got left, I can push on and have a good end, contribute to some more wins.”
Sunrisers sit bottom of Group Two with one win from four games. They lost against the Diamonds at South Northumberland on Wednesday, though had them in early trouble at 32-5 before a home recovery to 120-6.
Early July, Emirates Old Trafford. This Charlotte Edwards Cup clash, the final one before the break for the Hundred, was all about Emma!
Thunder’s star of the summer, Emma Lamb, had a day out in a win which took the hosts to the top of Group Two with a second win in three games.
Opening the batting, she crashed an unbeaten 111 off 61 balls, including 11 fours and three sixes, to underpin a commanding total of 186-1 in 20 overs. Both totals remain competition records to date.
Georgie Boyce added 34 and Ellie Threlkeld 26 not out.
In reply, Lamb’s off-spinners returned 3-16 from four overs, while she also took a catch, as Sunrisers were bowled out for 115 - a winning margin of 71 runs for Thunder.
One to watch:
Kate Coppack. Not a Thunder player, but she is a 26-year-old Sunrisers seamer with local links.
Born in Chester, she learnt her cricket at Boughton Hall, one of the Thunder’s home venues, and has previously played for Cheshire women.
She played two Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy games earlier in the summer and made her regional T20 debut in Wednesday’s Charlotte Edwards Cup defeat against the Northern Diamonds at South Northumberland.
And she was excellent, claiming 2-10 from four overs bowled on the reel with the new ball.