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MATCH PREVIEW AND SQUAD NEWS: Central Sparks vs Lancashire Thunder

MATCH PREVIEW AND SQUAD NEWS: Central Sparks vs Lancashire Thunder

Central Sparks vs Lancashire Thunder
Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy
Sunday July 14, 2024, 10.30am
New Road, Worcester

Squad to face Central Sparks:

Ellie Threlkeld*+, Alice Clarke, Danni Collins, Phoebe Graham, Naomi Dattani, Liberty Heap, Hannah Jones, Emma Lamb, Katie Mack, Fi Morris , Sophie Morris, Tara Norris, Seren Smale

Kate Cross is aiming to follow Sophie Ecclestone’s lead and keep putting in the performances for England which will keep her amongst the top ranked bowlers in the world.

The Lancashire Thunder fast-bowling star was last week confirmed by the ICC as the number two ranked bowler in the world in one-day international cricket - behind her regional team-mate, Ecclestone.

With Ecclestone being a left-arm spinner, it meant that Cross, 32, was installed as the number one ranked seamer in world cricket. Quite the accolade.

“Obviously it’s a really nice thing to be able to have against my name,” said the Heywood quick.

“But I know you have to be playing international cricket to stay amongst those rankings, and I think Sophie is a great example of how she has stayed there for a really long time.

“So, as much as it is nice to say number two, I would like to stay there as long as possible and contribute to England winning games of cricket.”

Ecclestone has been top of the ODI tree since March 2022, while she is also the number one ranked IT20 bowler.

Cross is closing in on 100 career ODI wickets - she is 11 short - and claimed three in two matches recently as England beat New Zealand on home soil.

She is now back with Thunder on Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy duty and is set to face Central Sparks at Worcestershire’s New Road on Wednesday (10.30am).

“I only saw it because it came up on my Instagram actually,” she said of the ODI ranking. 

“You don't really think about these things. 

“It's just one of those things that isn’t in the forefront of your mind, I’m not very stats driven anyway. 

“It’s nice to be able to say at some point that you've had that against your name.”

And on Thunder having both of the world’s top ranked 50-over bowlers in their squad, Cross added: “It’s not too bad! 

“I think even on that, though, I would personally like to come back and contribute more to Thunder winning games of cricket. 

“I’ve been a bit disappointed with how I haven't been able to do that when I’ve come back and put a Thunder shirt on. 

“So, as much as it is a nice thing to be able to say, you want to be able to back it up as much as you can.”

Thunder are going to need some special performances from the likes of Cross if they are to drag themselves back into semi-final contention in the RHF Trophy.

With six matches remaining, two before the break for the Hundred later this month, they sit second-bottom of the table and 14 points adrift of fourth-placed South East Stars with 30 points still to play for.

They have lost their last three matches, including against South East Stars at Blackpool on Sunday by 82 runs chasing a target of 284. Cross didn’t take a wicket in that match.

“What we’re trying to do at the moment is find our blueprint for how we play 50-over cricket, which is not quite what we've got right this summer,” she said.

“The thing is when you have games coming thick and fast, the chance is just around the corner to get it right. We can regroup quite quickly and hopefully put a better performance in on Wednesday. 

“It does feel like we’re really close to getting it right, and I still maintain that when we get it right we can be a group that dominates. 

“We have really good players within our group. 

“It’s just that we haven't been consistent enough at the right times, which everyone has been really aware of. 

“We’re working really hard to get that right. We just need a bit more game time and a bit more experience within the group, I think.”

Sixth-placed Sparks also have work to do to finish in the top four places come September time. Like Thunder, they have only won two of eight matches so far, but their 11-point haul means they are two points and a place in the table better off than the Red Rose.  

Their clash with Sunrisers at Radlett on Sunday was washed out after only 6.3 overs.

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