Ecclestone fires Thunder to victory over Lightning
England slow left-armer Sophie Ecclestone collected five for 15, her maiden five-wicket haul in T20 cricket, as Thunder ended their Charlotte Edwards Cup campaign with a five-wicket victory over Lightning at Emirates Old Trafford.
The victory was completed with 28 balls to spare and ensures that Thunder do not finish bottom of their group, that unwanted honour being taken by Lightning, whose total of 103 was comfortably overhauled.
But Lightning’s innings had got off to a superb start when the visitors took 27 runs off the first ten balls of the innings, 16 of them conceded by Kate Cross’s opening over. However, that early momentum was lost when Marie Kelly attempted one cross-batted swipe too many at Alex Hartley’s left-arm spin and was bowled for 17.
In the third over, Sophie Ecclestone had Ella Claridge caught by Phoebe Graham at mid-on for nought and Bethany Harmer pouched at backward square leg for seven. That left Lightning on 29 off three after three overs and only 15 runs were scored off the remaining 18 balls of the Powerplay.
Thunder struck the next blow when Sarah Bryce was neatly caught and bowled by Hannah Jones for 13 and when Bethan Ellis’s top-edged sweep off Emma Lamb was nonchalantly plucked out of the air by Graham at backward square leg on the 45, Lightning were 54 for five after nine overs.
Kathryn Bryce and Piepa Cleary tried to stabilise the innings but their attempt foundered when non-striker Bryce called Cleary for a single but was run out for 13 by Graham’s sharp throw. Lightning’s task now was to balance steady accumulation with the priority of batting out their remaining eight overs but Cleary and Lucy Higham’s careful progress was derailed in the 16th over with the score on 86, when another bullet throw by Graham ran out Higham for 16.
Ecclestone then cleaned up Sophie Munro, Grace Ballinger and Josie Groves, the last of her victims smartly stumped by Ellie Threlkeld first ball, to leave Lightning all out for 103 with two of their overs unused.
Thunder’s pursuit began even more poorly than Lightning’s had. Georgie Boyce was lbw to Kelly for one and Cross caught at mid-off with Ballinger the successful bowler for nine, both wickets falling in the first three overs, and when Ecclestone was leg before to Kathryn Bryce for two, the home side were 25 for three after 4.5 overs.
That, though was where the good news appeared to end for Lightning. Lamb moved carefully onto the attack and had made 42 off 35 balls when she was leg before to Kathryn Bryce. That was at the halfway stage of the Thunder innings and the home side were still well placed on 75 for four, especially so since Kelly had been removed from the attack for bowling two beamers above waist height.
Danielle Collins was leg before to Josie Groves for 12 in the next over but by that stage Thunder needed 23 runs off nine overs with five wickets in hand. That job was completed with litte fuss by Threlkeld and Daisy Mullan, skipper Threlkeld finishing unbeaten on 12. Kathryn Bryce, with two for 24, was the most successful Lightning bowler.