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Thunderbolts and Lightning very, very frightening

When Freddie Mercury sung the line “Thunderbolts and Lightning very, very frightening” when performing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, I don’t suppose he ever thought it would be associated with a cricket match! But it was most apt last Wednesday when Blackpool Cricket Club superbly hosted and administered a double-header for the two Lancashire teams, the ladies’ Lancashire Thunder and the Men’s Lancashire Lightning. Their opponents Northern Diamonds and Worcestershire Rapids respectively were both put to the sword, the former comprehensively, the latter in a tense final over.

Hollie Armitage won the toss and decided that Diamonds would bat and the first over produced two fours to Lauren Winfield-Hill. Little did Diamonds know but that was to be their most productive over their second most productive over of the game, the 11 runs from the sixth over being the only one to surpass it. And by then Diamonds had lost four wickets.

The wickets had begun to fall regularly and so they continued as Fi Morris, 2-16, Tara Norris, 2-19, and Mahika Gaur, 2-29, worked their way through the batting order while Olivia Bell’s off-spin, 3-9, helped finish the innings of with Liberty Heap’s throw to Dattani wrapping things up with a run out. Thus Diamonds posted a very modest 96 all out in 18.4 overs on a track that looked like it was full of runs.

Fourteen runs from the first over from Heap, 12, and Dattani, 20, set Thunder well on their way and with Morris making 42 not out from 34 balls with five fours, Diamonds could not stem the flow of runs. And it was all over after 15 overs as Lightning won by seven wickets at 97-3. Not only that, the victory ensured that Thunder would be competing in the play-off game against Southern Vipers at Worcester on 10 June.

As for the men, Lancashire Lightning fought a much tighter battle against Worcestershire Rapid after Liam Livingstone had won the toss and decided that Lightning would field first. And Worcestershire lived up to their name with a rapid start, skipper Brett D’Oliveira taking three fours from the second over. But the introduction of Colin de Grandomme into the attack put a stop to the merriment as he dismissed both openers.

Thereafter the spin of Tom Hartley and Luke Wells put the brakes on somewhat and when Daryl Mitchell was brought into the attack, he not only stemmed the flow of runs but took three wickets in the process to finish with a parsimonious 3-9. And with Adam Finch run out from the final ball of the innings, Rapids finished at 177-9 with Mitchell Santner’s 57 from 33 balls with four fours and four sixes, being the best effort, followed by Adam Hose’s 42 from 29 balls with two fours and three sixes. As for the fielding, on his home ground Steven Croft took three catches, including a superb overhead catch at long-off to dismiss Oliver Cox.

In reply, Lightning lost two early wickets, Phil Salt for five and Luke Wells for three but Joss Buttler was in dominant form and it was a surprise, as well as a disappointment to the healthy-sized crowd, when he edged the speedy Dillon Pennington to wicketkeeper Cox after he had made a sparkling 58 from 42 balls with five fours and three sixes.

It was also a disappointment when Croft was run out for 40 with four fours and two sixes after a mix-up with Mitchell but Livingstone entered and struck a 12-ball 23 to keep his side on track for victory. And with three balls remaining Mitchell, 33 not out from 14 balls, struck a mighty six over long-off to win the game for Lightning by four wickets at 181-6.

And that completed a thoroughly entertaining and successful day all round with the Lancashire men, returning to Stanley Park on 10 July for a four-day Division One LV=Insurance County Championship game … don’t miss it!

Gerry Wolstenholme

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