Report: Southern Vipers vs Northern Diamonds

Southern Vipers v Northern Diamonds

Charlotte Edwards Cup, Group B

Saturday June 4, 2022, 2.30pm

Ageas Bowl, Southampton

Toss: Northern Diamonds won it and elected to bat.

Teams: Vipers - Adams c, Wyatt, Bouchier, McCaughan, Dean, Kemp, Scholfield, Harmer, Norris, Rudd w, Bell.

Diamonds - Armitage c, Heath w, Kalis, Sciver, Smith, Dobson, Gunn, Brunt, Kasperek, Levick, Slater.

Match summary: The Northern Diamonds’ hopes of a fourth successive regional final are over following defeat against old foes Southern Vipers at Southampton, the hosts chasing 142 to win by six wickets with 10 balls to spare.

The Diamonds needed to win their final group game in order to have a chance of reaching Finals Day at Northampton next Saturday, and they were given every chance as Nat Sciver’s 50 and an unbeaten 48 for captain Hollie Armitage underpinned a competitive 141-4.

It wasn’t a case of win and qualify for the Diamonds, needing other results to go their way.

But, unfortunately, the other games were rendered insignificant as Sciver’s England team-mate Danni Wyatt raced to 35 off 16 balls at the top of the Vipers’ order. The hosts also benefited from an off colour display in the field from the Diamonds.

While Wyatt was dismissed with 105 still needed, her team-mates were able to build on the early good work, chiefly captain and opening partner Georgia Adams, who made 47 off 41 balls to ensure her side advance to Finals Day as Group B winners with six wins from six games.

Match Report: On a sunny Southampton day in front of nearly 2,500 fans and at the start of a T20 double header day with Hampshire’s men, the Diamonds gave themselves a good chance of a fourth victory in six group fixtures thanks to a calm and composed knocks from Sciver and Armitage, who shared 69 in nine overs for the third wicket to advance from 40-2 after seven overs.

Bess Heath and Sterre Kalis, the latter who looked good for 21, departed early to England off-spinner Charlie Dean before Sciver and Armitage advanced the cause.

Sciver was particularly strong playing to leg - she pulled and also ramped - on the way to her half-century off 37 balls on her return to the team after missing the last couple of games having married Katherine Brunt last Saturday.

She found a willing ally in Armitage, who pretty much scored at a run-a-ball but broke free in the final over of the innings with two boundaries off seamer Lauren Bell to push the score up beyond 140.

That score could have been more. An important moment came with the run out of Sciver coming back for two to the non-striker’s end after Armitage had found Maia Bouchier at long-on. That left the score at 109-3 after 16 overs and prevented serious Diamonds’ acceleration.

Dean was the pick of the home bowlers in good batting conditions with 2-24 from her four overs.

Diamonds’ fans were given a brief scare immediately after the toss when the teams were published and there was no sign of Brunt, Jenny Gunn, Sciver and Rachel Slater. But they were changed just before the start of the match with all the stars included.

In reply, Danni Wyatt’s contribution was the key one. She scored 35 of the first 37 runs, inside three-and-a-half overs, before cutting Katie Levick to point.

Levick continued her excellent early summer form with two wickets, the latter Bouchier lbw (63-2 after seven), taking her tally to 15 in six appearances.

But the Diamonds, off colour in the field, couldn’t drag things back.

They were hurt by a handful of of missed opportunities, including Ella McCaughan dropped by Sciver at mid-wicket off Linsey Smith before Adams - on 11 - was the beneficiary of a missed stumping by Heath next ball as the score moved to 73-2 in the ninth over.

Adams was also later dropped on 42, but by this time the Vipers target was only 25 in a little over five overs.

Adams hit strongly down the ground, including a straight six off Levick, and shared 59 with McCaughan before miscuing Leigh Kasperek’s off-spin to square-leg in the 16th.

It was the first of two wickets in the New Zealander’s first over as Dean was caught and bowled. But the Vipers were able to survive the slip to 124-4, with McCaughan finishing 27 not out and hitting the winning runs in the penultimate over.

Stat of the match: Nat Sciver went to 50 for the 25th time in a T20 career which has now spanned 224 games and started in the summer of 2010.

Turning point: England international Danni Wyatt raced out of the blocks with five fours in her first seven balls as the Vipers moved to 21-0 after 10 balls of their chase. It, unfortunately, set the home side of their way to victory.

Finals Day: Next Saturday’s Finals Day at Northampton will see South East Stars and Central Sparks contest the semi-final, with the winner playing Southern Vipers in the final.

What they said - Nat Sciver said: “We needed to do our job first, and then there was a possibility we could make Finals Day.

“I thought we had a good score at the halfway stage, but we could have got a few more if I’d stayed in a bit longer.

“They kept coming at us. They got ahead of the rate, then we’d take a wicket and then the next person would take over and we couldn’t stem the runs.

“I think you need three deep covers for Danni (Wyatt), and she’ll still probably get a four! She is so hard to bowl at.

“She will probably hit anything to deep cover whatever the line is. That is her strength.

“I’ve been a bit stop and starty with my training. Then we both (herself and Brunt) had Covid, so we were off for a couple of weeks. It doesn’t feel like my preparation has been that great. so I’m very happy to get to 50.”

What’s next: There is a break before the start of the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy. The Diamonds open that competition against cross-Pennine rivals Thunder at Sale on Sunday July 3 (10.30am) at Sale on the outskirts of Manchester.


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