Southern Vipers triumph over Lightning in Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy

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 was 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 been 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 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.

Vipers skipper and top scorer Georgia Adams said: “I’m chuffed to bits with how the girls have gone about the tournament so far.

“Having players in and out consistently in the last three games has made it tough. But it is great for players who have been itching to get into the side to have an opportunity to get out there on the field.

“What I was pleased about today was that, after we lost a few quick wickets, we had to change the tempo of the innings. But we have some level heads and some good cricket brains and while Ella McCaughan deserves credit for batting with me in that partnership, Emily Windsor played a crucial innings down the order.

“With the ball, Charlotte Taylor was absolutely brilliant today. She is always a wicket-taking threat and credit to her to keep delivering. It is nice to see her rewarded. She is so consistent. She has a good cricket brain.

“She is pretty clued up on what fields she sets and what she is trying to do with the ball and keeps it simple.

“She has had a tougher year this year. She didn’t make our Charlotte Edwards Cup XI so to see her bounce back in this competition and to perform the way she has done, I’m really pleased for her.

“We set ourselves high standards with the ball and to have Anya Shrubsole come in as player-coach has been massively rewarding for us, in terms of technical and tactical knowledge.”

Lighting head coach Chris Guest said: “It was a very disappointing result for us. We are a few players light and, on an outstanding wicket, the game probably got away from us a bit at the end of their innings when they got up to 290 – and then we didn’t bat as well as we could have done and should have done to get closer in the game.

“If I’m honest they performed better than we did in all facets of the game. They batted better. They certainly fielded better than us. And we couldn’t contain or build much pressure with the ball and we weren’t able to release the pressure for long enough periods with the bat.

“It was an excellent innings from young Josie, a 17-year-old, to try to get us back into the game and she did a fantastic job in doing that but, unfortunately, we didn’t have anyone to bat through the innings and make the most of that cameo.

“She got us the breakthrough with the ball today as well. Josie is an exciting player, someone we have had with us through the academy. She can hit a clean ball, very good in the field and she can bowl so she is an exciting all-round cricketer.”

Guest confirmed that bowler Grace Ballinger was absent with a back injury.

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