On a slow, turning pitch underneath the twilight sun at Edgbaston, the Southern Vipers rounded off a perfect season by defeating the Northern Diamonds by 38 runs in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Final. The only side to go undefeated through the first professional women’s 50-over competition in England, it was a fitting end to a hastily put-together tournament, which nevertheless offered high calibre cricket throughout.
Fitting too to see Vipers’ captain Georgia Adams, with 80 in the final and 500 runs across the seven matches, lift aloft the glinting trophy. No need for the calculators to determine the first recipient of the PCA’s Most Valuable Player award because Adams has been dominant throughout; she surely will be eyeing up a berth in England’s proposed winter tour to the Antipodes.
Adams, however, may have been the standout player of the season, but when she held on to a catch in the 37th over to dismiss Sterre Kalis for 55, she nobly handed over the player of the match award to off-spinner Charlotte Taylor. Tipped as one to watch by head coach Charlotte Edwards, Taylor had patiently watched the Diamonds take six wickets with various forms of spin, before tucking in herself. What three spinners did for the Diamonds, however, Taylor did all on her own, claiming six wickets for just 34 runs to cap off a dominant all-round performance by the southern side.
Finals can often be anticlimactic occasions, the nerves getting the better of those taking the stage, but this one chopped, changed and threatened to surprise at every turn. Sticking to a theme of nicely-rounded numbers, Adams put on a first wicket stand of 100 with her Sussex teammate Ella McCaughan, before a wobble in the middle of the Vipers’ innings saw them lose five wickets for 22.
It was a long hop from leg spinner Hollie Armitage which precipitated the mini-collapse, Maia Bouchier dragging the ball down the throat of mid-on for 28. A further five wickets then quickly fell to the spin trio of Armitage, Katie Levick and Linsey Smith. Despite giving the Diamonds some hope that they might chase down the 231 required, all this really did was to give encouragement to the southern side’s spin attack of Taylor and co. There was a valiant effort with the bat from the Netherlands’ international, Kalis, reaching her third consecutive half-century, but it needed more than Dutch courage to overcome the Vipers. Convincing winners of a convincing tournament, this is a competition which may well set the blueprint for years to come.
England vs West Indies, 4th T20I preview
England enter the final week of their truncated 2020 campaign eyeing up a whitewash against the visiting West Indies. The hosts have played three, won three in this five-match T20I series and, having fielded an unchanged starting eleven on each occasion, appear in clinical mood.
As the autumnal weather descends, England’s fourth T20I match on Monday evening will surely be one in which they firmly have an eye on the winter fixtures. The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed over the weekend that arrangements are under way for England’s women to tour New Zealand in February and March. The plan, as it stands in this constantly-changing environment, is to play white-ball series against both the White Ferns and Australia in the new year.
With the newly crowned T20 world champions Australia ranked number one in both ODIs and T20Is, Heather Knight’s team will want to put the final two T20Is against the West Indies to good use before taking on the world’s dominant side. Although England have won convincingly so far, with the margin of victory never dropping below 20-runs, only Nat Sciver and Tammy Beaumont have gone past 30 runs in any given innings. England will know they need more from the top order if they are to challenge Australia next year and this is a good opportunity to practice just that.