16 Jul 2022 | Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy 2022
223 for 7
Southern Vipers
294 for 6
Lightning need 72 runs to win from 9.1 overs

Words by Jon Culley, ECB Reporters Network

Even with five of their squad on international duty, defending champions Southern Vipers were too strong for East Midlands side Lightning as they made it three Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy wins from three at the Incora County Ground, Derby.

Maia Bouchier and Freya Kemp, named in the squad for the Commonwealth Games, joined Danni Wyatt, Lauren Bell and Charlie Dean on England duty but Vipers still posted 294 for six in their 50 overs before dismissing Lightning for 228 in 44 overs.

Hitting 10 boundaries each, Vipers skipper Georgia Adams (82) and 19-year-old Ella McCaughan, whose 72 was a career-best in List A matches, shared a partnership of 153 for the first wicket before Emily Windsor swelled the Vipers total with an unbeaten 47.

Josie Groves, Lightning’s 17-year-old leg spinner, showed she can also bat by hitting a maiden half-century to go with two wickets, but it was a performance in vain as her side finished 66 runs short, off-spinner Charlotte Taylor taking three for 31 as the stand-out bowler, Tara Norris picking up three for 35.

Without Grace Ballinger, their hero with the ball in the win over Thunder last weekend, the Lightning attack were made to struggle when Vipers won the toss and chose to bat first in ideal conditions, their cause not helped by giving McCaughan a life on 43, when she was dropped at mid-on off spinner Lucy Higham.

After treating the new ball with respect, posting 37 in the opening 10 powerplay overs, Adams and McCaughan hit the accelerator as McCaughan completed her half-century from 69 balls, having given just that one chance. Adams soon reached the milestone herself, from 57 deliveries.

Three wickets in as many overs suggested a Lightning fightback as Vipers went from 153 without loss in the 28th to 155 for three.  Groves turned one nicely to bowl McCaughan before a Kathryn Bryce inswinger bowled Georgia Elwiss for a second-ball duck.  An lbw decision against Chloe Hill gave Groves a second scalp.

Paige Scholfield hit 18 off 17 balls but was denied more when Groves safely pouched the ball at deep backward square before Adams saw the chance of a century slip away as Piepa Cleary caught a steepling top-edge to off her own bowling.

But Lightning could not dislodge Windsor and Vipers’ last two wickets added 85, including 23 off 12 balls by Nancy Harman.

In reply, Lightning were ahead in runs after their opening 10 overs but at 49 for two had lost Beth Harmer, leg before trying to pull Scholfield’s medium pace, and Kathryn Bryce, who offered Taylor a simple return catch, falling for just one after a match-winning century against Thunder.

With Marie Kelly missing through injury, it placed an onus on Kathryn’s sister Sarah to carry the Lightning innings and though she and third-wicket partner Bethan Ellis were still together at 109 for two in the 25th over, they were a daunting 185 runs behind as the disciplined Vipers bowlers offered few easy opportunities.

Both then departed in turn, Sarah Bryce falling one short of a half-century when she went after Harman but picked out the fielder at deep midwicket, before a thin edge off the excellent Taylor saw Ellis caught behind.

Groves kept Lightning’s hopes alive with her uninhibited hitting, picking up six fours and smashing Schofield for six over long on, riding her luck on 39 when dropped off Elwiss, but after she sliced to backward point for 55 from 39 balls, with 96 off 13.3 overs required, Sophie Munro was bowled by Taylor, Norris dismissed Higham and Piepa Cleary in the same over and had Alicia Presland stumped in her next over to wrap up the win.