Match Preview: Western Storm v Thunder
The Thunder are aiming to ride on the momentum created by many of their players in Manchester Originals colours during the latter stages of the Hundred
Charlotte Edwards Cup, Group B
Wednesday August 25, 2.30pm
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Thunder are back in Regional T20 action on Wednesday when they face Western Storm in the Charlotte Edwards Cup at Sophia Gardens.
Paul Shaw’s side are top of the Group B table by a point from cross-Pennine rivals Northern Diamonds having won two of their opening three games.
At the end of the six-game group phase, the top team in each of the two groups qualifies for Finals Day at the Ageas Bowl on September 5 alongside the best second-placed finisher.
The best placed group winner advances directly through to the final, while the other two teams play off in a semi-final.
As things stand, Group A leaders Southern Vipers are the most likely finalists. They have 15 points from three games compared to Thunder’s nine from three.
A win in Wales, avenging a rain-affected nine-wicket defeat to Storm at Chester in early July, would ensure a giant step towards Finals Day is taken.
Eleven Thunder players were involved with the Originals through the Hundred, while there was also significant coaching crossover. Shaw was head coach, for example.
And despite failing to make the knockout stages, they won three of their last four games to end on a high.
“We’re certainly hoping to benefit from that,” said Shaw. “There’s no reason why we can’t.
“You have to make sure it provides the springboard for a good month or so.
“We’re still a developing side, as we keep saying, but we’ll do all we can to put in some good performances.
“With the skills that have been acquired in the Hundred, you should see a real good standard of cricket in both the T20 and the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy. That’s really important as we look to move the game forwards.”
Shaw described the Hundred as “a fantastic tournament”.
“It felt very much like a global tournament did when I was with England women, either a World Cup or an Ashes series,” he said.
And it is not just on the field where he hopes to see the momentum maintained.
He explained: “Because of the interest generated and the slightly different demographic of people who have come into the grounds to watch, you might find more families coming to watch us in the Regional games, which would be great.”
The Storm game at Cardiff is the first of three in six days to round off the Charlotte Edwards group stage. Sunrisers are next up at Wantage Road on Saturday before the Diamonds visit Chester Boughton Hall on Monday.
“We are in the mix,” said Shaw. “The players are looking forward to it and are excited.
“But it’s about just focusing on one game at a time. It’s a phrase you hear so many times, but it’s so true. It would be nice to go to Cardiff and put in a good performance and get over the line.
“The girls have had some decent rest over the last week or so, which will stand us in good stead. Let’s see what we can do.”
England fast bowler Kate Cross could be available for the second half of the Charlotte Edwards Cup, pending international selection. She missed out on England’s last T20 squad v India, and that is the format which opens the forthcoming series with New Zealand.
The plan is also for seamer Piepa Cleary to end the summer in Thunder colours before she returns home to Australia.
Storm clinched a nine-wicket win at a rainy Chester Boughton Hall on Sunday July 4.
After beating the Diamonds in their opening Group B game, Thunder’s progress was jolted as the visitors chased down an adjusted target of only 33 in five overs.
Thunder had posted 110-8 in their 20 overs, including opener Emma Lamb’s 21 and Laura Marshall’s middle order 19. Lauren Parfitt (2-15 from four overs) was one of three Storm bowlers to claim two wickets.
The heavens then opened one over into the Storm response, with them 2-0.
A delay of nearly two hours followed before the Duckworth Lewis Stern target became 33 in five overs - so, 31 in another four.
And opener Fi Morris, who had earlier claimed two wickets with her off-spin, did the bulk of the damage with 19 off only only eight balls, including four boundaries.
When she fell to Lamb, the score was an irretrievable 21-1 after 2.1 overs.
Either side of that fixture, Storm have lost their other two.
Heading into the return clash, they are third in the table with five points - four behind Thunder.
One to watch:
Ellie Threlkeld played an impressive supporting role with the bat in Thunder’s last game, against Sunrisers at Emirates Old Trafford in early July, and hopefully there is more of the same to come over the next month or so.
Wicketkeeper bat Threlkeld hit an unbeaten 26 off 24 balls in an unbroken century stand with hundred hero Emma Lamb in a big win which took Thunder to the top of the table.
Threlkeld had limited opportunity with the bat for Manchester Originals in the Hundred, but her keeping was excellent.
The 22-year-old is likely to bat at three again in Cardiff, and maybe this time she will be the star act.