Match Preview: Thunder v Northern Diamonds
Thunder head into the final Group Two fixture against their cross-Pennine rivals knowing they have to win to have any chance of advancing to Finals Day at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl a week today
Charlotte Edwards Cup, Group Two
Monday August 30, 2.30pm
Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club
If Thunder win, for the third time in six matches, at Chester Boughton Hall, they would secure top spot if current group leaders Western Storm lose against Sunrisers at Fenner’s.
The current standings in Group Two see Storm top with 13 points, Diamonds second with 12 and Thunder third with 11.
Only the top team in each of the two groups is guaranteed qualification for Finals Day, with the best group winner advancing straight through to next Sunday’s late afternoon final.
The other group winner and the best second-placed finisher play off in a midday semi-final.
Not only can Thunder still win their group, they can also finish as the best second-placed team, giving them a fall back if Storm beat Sunrisers.
For that to happen, they would need to win and hope for two results to go their way.
One is that Southern Vipers, currently second in Group One with 15 points, lose against Lightning at Derby.
If Thunder won and claimed the regular four points, it would come down to net run-rate between the two sides. To take net run-rate out of the equation, Thunder would need a bonus-point victory (five points in all).
A bonus point is achieved where a winning team’s run-rate is 1.25 or greater times that of the opposition.
The other result to keep an eye on is that of Group One’s third-placed team, Central Sparks, who have 12 points.
If they beat top of the table South East Stars (forget about the Stars, they have 17 points and are out of Thunder’s reach), then Thunder would need to win with a bonus point to better them on net run-rate.
All Thunder, who will again be without Emma Lamb following her England T20 call-up, can do is take care of their own game and hope.
Paul Shaw, Alex Hartley and co left Northampton yesterday, where they tied with Sunrisers, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.
A win would have put them top of Group Two heading into tomorrow’s blockbuster final day, but a defeat would have eliminated them altogether.
Clearly, one major positive was their fight at the end when defending a target of 125. Sunrisers needed nine off the last two overs with eight wickets in hand, only for Kate Cross to concede only four in the penultimate over and Hannah Jones to do likewise in the last when defending five. Both were superb.
England seamer Cross has been there, done it and bought the t-shirt.
For Jones, though, she has not - a left-arm spinner in her first year as a professional cricketer.
Aged 22, Jones represented England A last week in a 50-over friendly against New Zealand having played for the Manchester Originals in the recent Hundred competition.
In 11 Thunder games this season, she has taken nine wickets. For the Originals, she took four wickets in as many appearances.
“Hannah is a great individual - very quiet,” said coach Shaw.
“We actually term her, ‘The quiet performer’. She’s the one who takes the ball and does the business under whatever pressure.
“In the Hundred, in front of the crowds, the cameras, the razzmatazz, she just took the ball and got on with it. No fuss.
“That’s worth its weight in gold for us. She can only get better.
“She’s improved over the last 12 months, and over the next couple of years I think she’ll improve a fair bit more.”
Wicketkeeper Ellie Threlkeld, who has had a bird’s eye view of Jones’s progression, added: “I think Hannah’s been really consistent. She’s just hit her line and length every ball. If you bowl full and straight in women’s cricket, it can be quite hard for some of the batters to score.”
One to watch:
Kate Cross. The England seamer is having an excellent personal season.
In all cricket, for England, Thunder and Manchester Originals, she has taken 30 wickets in 17 matches, including a best of 5-34 in a one-day international against India.
Cross was superb in claiming 2-20 from four overs in the Sunrisers tie yesterday, and she is likely to come up against her England team-mate Lauren Winfield-Hill tomorrow.
Winfield-Hill has missed the Diamonds last two Charlotte Edwards Cup games, a win against Sunrisers on Wednesday and a defeat against Storm yesterday, having been rested following the Hundred.
But the Diamonds expect to have her back for this must win fixture. And Cross should know the best way to combat her danger at the top of the order.
There was a temptation to pinch a line used in the preview for yesterday’s Sunrisers game. ‘This game was all about Emma’. But that would be doing an injustice to fledgling seamer Sophia Turner, who was sensational in an opening round Charlotte Edwards Cup win at Emerald Headingley in late June.
Emma Lamb was superb, and was the key performer in a 12-run win with runs, wickets, a catch and a run out.
She hit 58 off 43 balls at the top of the order to underpin the Thunder’s 118-6, a competitive total.
In reply, the Diamonds looked well placed having reached 31-0 after four overs, but Lamb made the breakthrough with her off-spinners when trapping home captain Hollie Armitage lbw.
Things unravelled quickly for the Diamonds, with Lamb finishing with a superb 4-13 from four overs.
But Turner, 18 and on her first regional appearance of 2021, was a huge part of their demise.
When she had the other opener Leah Dobson caught by Lamb, they were 36-3 in the eighth over, and she finished with 1-4 from four overs.
The Diamonds could only scramble to 106-9, ensuring an excellent start to the Thunder’s campaign which remains alive as we speak.