Western Storm v Northern Diamonds
Charlotte Edwards Cup, Group Two
Saturday July 10 2021, 2.30pm
Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton
Toss: Northern Diamonds win it and opt to bowl.
Teams: Storm - Harvey, Edgcombe, Parfitt, Hutchins, Griffiths, Gibson, Wraith w, Luff c, Hennessey, Morris, George.
Diamonds - Armitage c, Dobson, Campbell, Taylor w, Gunn, Kalis, Hopkins, MacDonald, Smith, Graham, Levick.
Match summary: Alex MacDonald’s T20 career best 4-17 and a match high 27 not out from Jenny Gunn secured a thrilling one-wicket, last ball victory for the Northern Diamonds.
Chasing 107, the Diamonds slipped from 33-1 to need 10 off the last over with just one wicket in hand.
Gunn, batting with a fractured finger, smashed two fours down the ground, the winning hit over mid-on, off Alex Griffiths to secure a second win in three Group Two fixtures.
Earlier, Sarah Taylor took a stunning one-handed catch behind the stumps as the Diamonds kept themselves on course for Finals Day in September. But only just!
Report: This was a fixture dominated by excellent bowling and fielding from both sides. And thankfully the Diamonds came out on the right side as Jenny Gunn hit the last ball for four with one run needed as she battled against a finger injury suffered in last week’s win over Sunrisers.
The medium pace of Alex MacDonald returned the second four-wicket haul of her T20 career, while spinners Linsey Smith (2-15 from four overs) and Katie Levick (1-17 from four) expertly backed her up as they restricted the hosts to 106-9.
Only England bowler Katie George, a former Yorkshire Diamond in the days of the Kia Super League, and wicketkeeper Nat Wraith made it to 20 with 21 and 20 respectively as the Storm lost wickets all too regularly.
Smith added two catches at point to her two wickets, while England legend Sarah Taylor, in her last Diamonds appearance, claimed two catches behind the wicket and a stumping to roll back the years having only recently come out of retirement ahead of the Hundred.
Her first catch, off Phoebe Graham’s bowling to get rid of him captain Sophie Luff, was sensational!
Diving to her right, Taylor parried a thick outside edge with her right hand and held on with her left as she hit the turf.
But the Diamonds innings also saw wickets fall all too regularly.
Captain Hollie Armitage fell to Emily Edgcombe in the first over before Ami Campbell and Leah Dobson crashed a couple of boundaries apiece in the early stages of their innings to take score to 33-1 in the fifth.
But Campbell (15) and Dobson (12) were both caught off the seam of Alex Griffiths with the score on 33, and the double wicket maiden brought MacDonald and Taylor together.
MacDonald was bowled by Dani Gibson’s seamers, and when Taylor was run out coming back for two following excellent work on the deep mid-wicket boundary from Griffiths, the Diamonds were 62-5 in the 11th over still needing 45.
Rachel Hopkins was trapped lbw and Sterre Kalis bowled as the score fell to 78-7 with five overs remaining and 29 still needed.
The target became 20 off three overs with Smith and Jenny Gunn together.
Smith also fell, as did Graham, with Gibson finishing with an excellent 2-9 from four overs.
But Gunn held her nerve to take the lion’s share of 10 off the seam of Griffiths in the last over, finishing 27 not out off 21 balls.
Turning point: With nine off four balls needed with only a wicket left, the Storm were arguably favourites. But Jenny Gunn walloped two fours down the ground to seal the win and post the highest individual score of the match.
Magic moment: At the end of the fourth over of the game, Phoebe Graham found Sophie Luff’s outside edge and Sarah Taylor dived away to her right behind the stumps and took a stunner. She parried it with her right hand and made sure with her left as she hit the turf.
That left the Storm at 28-3, and it was another one for the England legend’s highlights reel.
Stat: Only once before in T20 cricket has Alex MacDonald taken four wickets (4-28), for Yorkshire women against Surrey - the county of her birth - in 2015.
The White Rose won by 10 wickets that day, and she got Nat Sciver out caught behind by Beth Mooney.
What they said: Alex MacDonald - “We rely a lot on Jenny Gunn, even when she’s batting with one hand.
“It’s disappointing we let it get that far, but it shows as a group we are very hard to beat.
“Get us nine down and we still need 10 off the last over, yet we can pull it out of the bag.
“We were still confident with Jenny there in that last over.
“We joke that Katie Levick would be batting at nine in any other team. It’s just that she’s batting eleven in ours.
“Even at nine down, we think we can win any match.
“It’s almost a shame we are breaking for the Hundred. We lost our first T20, but we’ve got a bit of momentum having won the last two.
“It puts us in a really good position when we comeback to restart the competition.
“I feel like I’m bowling really well. I’ve figured out how I bowl. I’m never going to be really quick. I do a similar job to Jenny and haven’t got as many overs as I’d like because she just keeps on doing it for us.
“I’m confident at the moment.
“It also shows that this isn’t our frontline bowling attack with Beth Langston not here, but we can still restrict a team to 106-9.”
What’s next: The eight regional teams now break for the Hundred and are not in action against until August 25 when the Charlotte Edwards Cup resumes and plays to a finish - Finals Day is on September 5.
The Diamonds next game is a home fixture against Sunrisers at Gosforth on Wednesday August 25 (2.30pm).
Gosforth represents the home of South Northumberland Cricket Club.