Despite England Women having played two Test Matches at Stanley Park, against Australia in 1937 and India in 1986, and two ODIs against New Zealand in 2007, this is Lancashire Thunder’s first visit to Stanley Park. Having said that, Lancashire Women did play, and lost to, Kent Women at the ground in 2007. And Thunder have one survivor in the current squad from that particular game in Kate Cross.
We also welcome South East Stars as our visitors for this important Charlotte Edwards Cup match, a competition in which both sides have so far played five games, with both teams having a similar record of won two, lost three.
Thunder got off to a disappointing start in their opening match against Western Storm, who chased down 154-7, Emma Lamb 36, to win by six wickets with 155-4, England captain Heather Knight making 62 and Fran Wilson 53.
Thunder also lost their second game to The Blaze after scoring only 117-6 in their 20 overs. Tammy Beaumont then made 58 as Blaze won by three wickets in 15.2 overs with 120-7.
In their third game against Sunrisers, when Kate Cross bowled the dangerous Dane van Niekerk with the second ball of the match Thunder were on their way to their first victory. Only Cordelia Griffiths with 36 made significant progress against the powerful Thunder bowling as the Stars totaled 116-8 off their 20 overs. The wickets were shared, Cross 2-20, Emma Lamb 2-24, and one each for Naomi Dattani, Sophie Ecclestone and Tara Norris for 11, 14 and 14 runs respectively. A 64-run opening partnership in 9.1 overs by Lamb, 31, and Liberty Heap, 46, put Thunder well on course for victory and the game ended after 16.3 overs with Thunder winning by three wickets as Deandra Dottin struck a speedy 26 not out with two sixes and two fours.
And it was a comfortable victory for Thunder in their fourth game against Central Sparks, who could make no headway chasing Thunder’s 155-6, Lamb 64, and they finished with 118-9 to lose by 37 runs with Fi Morris and Norris taking two wickets each for 16 and 30 runs respectively.
It was a disappointing fifth game for Thunder against Southern Vipers as they were bowled out for 111, suffering three run outs in the process and only Dottin, 24, and Heap, 22, passing the 20-mark. With two run outs themselves, Vipers took just 16.1 overs to reach 115-6 and win by four wickets as Ella McCaughan made 42.
As for Southern Stars, they opened their campaign against The Blaze and made a defendable 160-8, Phoebe Franklin making 53 and Nadine de Klerk taking 3-21. But The Blaze won at 161-2 with four balls remaining as Kathryn Bryce made 63 not out.
Their second game against Southern Vipers saw the Stars again score well, making 169-6, Bryony Smith 83 and Sophia Dunkley 53, but the Vipers proved too strong and in 18.5 overs won by six wickets at 171-4 with runs from everyone and Danielle Wyatt making a top score of 40.
The Stars third game against Sunrisers saw them pick up their first victory as Paige Scholfield’s 3-24 helped restrict Sunrisers to 132-8 with Eva Gray, batting at number eight, giving some late momentum to the Sunrisers’ innings with 36 not out.
But it was not enough for the Stars had an over to spare when they reached their target at 135-6 with Bryony Smith top scoring with 38.
Alice Capsey was the Stars’ batting star against Northern Diamonds as she made a 48-ball 71 with seven fours and two sixes in the total of 138-7 in which Grace Hall took 3-20 for the Diamonds. And in a nail-biting last-ball finish the Diamonds got home by two wickets at 140-8 as Lizzie Scott struck a last ball boundary to give Diamonds the victory.
Against Western Storm, batting first the Stars made what seemed a modest 126-6 with Alice Davidson-Richards top scoring with 43 and Tash Farrant making a late 16-ball 32 not out with six fours. In reply, Western Storm had 20 on the board after 13 balls but thereafter wickets fell at regular intervals and it all came down to the final over when, with one ball remaining Chloe Skelton was run out by Ryana MacDonald-Gay that left skipper Sophie Luff stranded on 43 not out, Southern Stars had won a superb game by five runs. Both Franklin and Danielle Gregory finished with 2-23 and Freya Davies had 2-14 in the Storm’s 121 all out.
The Charlotte Edwards Cup has provided some exciting and interesting cricket so far this season so let’s give the ladies a rousing reception as we expect today’s encounter to provide some entertaining cricket by two sides who are striving to make the play-offs of the competition as Thunder look to get back to winning ways and Stars look to continue their winning streak.
Admission for Blackpool and Lancashire members is free on production of their membership card and for non-members there is a pay on the gate facility, entrance £5 … do come and enjoy the game!