Sunday saw the conclusion of the Kia Women’s Super League, with group leaders Southern Vipers taking on Western Storm and claiming the competition’s first trophy with a seven-wicket win.
This exciting addition to the English domestic calendar looked to emulate the success of the Women’s Big Bash League which ran alongside the men’s tournament in Australia, as well as looking to bridge the gap between the county and international game in England.
The competition, which is made up of six teams, attracted 18 top international stars including the likes of New Zealand captain Suzie Bates for Southern Vipers, Australian captain Meg Lanning for Surrey Stars and World Cup-winning West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor for Western Storm.
While defeat was fairly comprehensive for the bottom half of the group, with Lancashire Thunder, Yorkshire Diamonds and Surrey Stars finishing with two, three and five points respectively, it was a much closer affair at the top of the table.
Charlotte Edwards’ Southern Vipers, who won four of their five games and walked away with 11 points, topped the group, ensuring them a direct ticket to the final, while Western Storm and Loughborough Lightning confirmed their places in the semi-finals to see who would face the leaders in the final.
Chelmsford was the host of the much-anticipated finals day that would see the crowning of the first Women’s Super League champion. Western Storm won the toss and elected to bowl in the crucial semi-final, West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor (3-31 off four overs) removing Loughborough’s openers Georgia Elwiss (6 off 10) and Dane van Niekerk (14 off 18) early to put them under early pressure at 22 for two. However a fightback in the form of a timey 64 off 48 balls from Australia’s Ellyse Perry propelled Loughborough to a competitive total of 124 for seven at the end of their 20 overs.
An early wicket in the form of Rachel Priest (4) gave Loughborough some confidence before a damaging 57-run partnership between Stafanie Taylor (34 off 44) and England captain Heather Knight put Western Storm on the front foot.
While Sophie Devine finally managed to dismiss Knight in the final over for a magnificent 52 off 43 balls, the damage had already been done with Georgia Hennessy hitting the winning runs the very next ball, making Western Storm the second finalists.
With just an hour and a half between games, Western Storm were hoping to carry their winning momentum into the final after losing the toss and being put in to bat. It was another half-century that shaped Western Storm’s innings against Charlotte Edward’s Southern Vipers, but this time in the form of a 57 off 55 balls from wicket-keeper Rachel Priest.
Another score of over 30 for Stafanie Taylor, this time off a much quicker 28 balls, enabled the team to reach a respectable and competitive total of 140 for five.
Southern Vipers, however, were strong in their reply with an opening partnership of 78 from the experienced Suzie Bates (52 off 46) and Charlotte Edwards (24 off 18), the latter falling to Jodie Dibble in the 10th over.
Even with Western Storm’s impressive fielding display, two run outs coming from Fran Wilson and Anya Shrubsole, the Southern Vipers romped to a seven-wicket victory in just 18.5 overs to claim the trophy.
While Southern Vipers were the victors of the competition, all six teams will be exceptionally pleased with the opportunity to have taken part in such a competitive tournament.
The Women’s Super League has undoubtedly aided the progression of the women’s game in England, both in terms of playing and popularity. The England and Wales Cricket Board have already expressed their interest in expanding into a 50 over tournament which, if it goes ahead, will only help expand the women’s game and generate new interest at all levels.
© Cricket World 2016