Thorley thrilled by Thunder progress
The Thunder players may be challenging the view of David Thorley and the rest of the hierarchy that a realistic trophy hunt is still a few years away. But he could not be happier about it
Thunder director of cricket Thorley, coach Paul Shaw and captain Alex Hartley are all of the view that title wins are not the main target in 2021 for a young and emerging squad.
Instead, they want to see progress from two wins in six 50-over games last season and previous struggles for the Lancashire Thunder in the days of the Kia Super League T20 competition between 2016 and 2019.
Their views were understandable to say the least.
But not only has significant progress been made, a trophy is by no means out of the question having reached the mid-season break for the Hundred to be played.
The Thunder have won two games from four in the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and have work to do in that competition.
But they sit top of Group Two in the Charlotte Edwards T20 Cup with two wins from three - nine points - and are a point clear of Roses rivals Northern Diamonds.
With three games to play, only the top team in each of the two groups qualifies for Finals Day. But the best second-placed finisher also advances.
“It’s true (the girls are challenging that view), and it’s absolutely fantastic,” said Thorley.
“Looking back 12 months, that would have been difficult to say.
“Myself and Paul Shaw and the senior players have a lot of conversations, and we know this is a project. It’s something we know is a several-year project to get to where we want to get to.
“But progress has been very positive.
“The players have shown, and not just the full-time ones, that if you give them a winter of training and quality coaching then they will really kick on.
“In T20 in particular, we’re starting to make ourselves known.
“Last season, there were a few games which we simply weren’t in. This year, we’ve been in all bar one game.
“We’ve maybe taken a couple of teams by surprise, and we’re there or thereabouts in the T20.
“Last season was a glimpse into where all the teams around the country were. Everyone had quite a short preparation leading into the six group games, seven for the finalists.
“This year we’ve had a full winter, which has made a huge difference, and we’re very happy with our results so far.
“The performances are getting there. We’re not where we want to be yet, but they are a lot different from last season and we have some momentum now.
“We’re happy with how things are going whilst wanting to kick on and keep impressing.”
The Thunder’s standout wins have been against previously unbeaten Central Sparks in 50-over cricket and Northern Diamonds in T20.
The standout player has been Emma Lamb, who has scored centuries in both formats and returned hauls of 4-13 and 3-16 with her off-spinners in T20.
But others have played highly impressive supporting roles. Captain Hartley is a prime example with her leadership, hitting the winning runs in a thriller against the Sparks and taking a couple of sensational outfield catches.
“We feel our squad has broadened this year - there are more players who can make an impact,” said Thorley.
“Emma has stolen the headlines, but others players have stood up as well.
“Take the Sunrisers game last week, Georgie (Boyce) and Ellie (Threlkeld) were superb in supporting her for her century. They ticked singles over and gave her the strike.
“Sophia Turner is another example. Paul has been looking at the right moment to blood the youngsters, and she was fantastic in the game at Headingley when she came in (1-4 from four overs).
“Laura Jackson has also been a story for us.
“She came in when the England players left us, and she’s put in some great performances. Laura made the most of increased training, and her late run of form has got her into the Manchester Originals squad.
“Paul Shaw has done a fantastic job so far and has created a brilliant environment.
“He’s been helped by Craig White, Stephen Parry, Cookie Patel, Tim Boon.
“You can see the players putting their winter work into practice now.
“We know we’ll be up and down, but the next step is consistency.
“If we can get that top order clicking more times than not, we’ll be giving teams a good game every week.”
Including England duo Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone, 12 Thunder players are involved in the Hundred.
All but Piepa Cleary (Welsh Fire) are playing for the Manchester Originals.
For those not involved, Thorley added: “We’ll be keeping a busy training schedule for them to ensure they’re ready to hit the ground running when we return.”