This summer’s Kia Super League has shown glimpses of what England might produce in years to come, says Isabelle Westbury, and a new era is in sight…
A Friday night, down by the seaside, at a ground accustomed to hosting the women’s game – this year’s Kia Super League finals day is primed for an exciting contest.
The schools are still on holiday, the rain is set to stay away from Hove and with the men’s T20 finals to follow a day later, the final fixture of the women’s season promises a welcome last dose of summer. It’s an occasion fit to cap off an exciting year for women’s cricket, which has seen unprecedented levels of interest throughout the country – online, onscreen, at the grounds and across the news cycle.
On the back of a groundbreaking World Cup, the on-field feats have proven worthy of the attention; explosive batting displays have seen two centuries registered in the group games where last season there were none, while Western Storm’s wicket-keeper Rachel Priest smashed a 21-ball fifty, bettering her 27-ball record for the World Cup just weeks before. We’ve also been privy to a skilful five-for from Australian seamer Rene Farrell while West Indian captain Stafanie Taylor ripped through Loughborough Lightning’s defences, taking four wickets for just five runs in a dominating display. If the international stars are fatigued from a lengthy World Cup run, they are showing few signs of it.
Her performance was a hint, if nothing more, of the potential on offer; similar all-round cameos from Loughborough Lightning’s Sarah Glenn (more wickets, more sixes) provided further encouragement for England’s future. Evelyn Jones and Georgia Hennessy of Thunder and Storm respectively have given their sides good starts with the bat on more than one occasion while Linsey Smith, who rose to prominence in last year’s tournament, has proven that she’s no one-hit wonder, taking four wickets at a miserly economy of under five.
That the statistics are dominated by the internationals is arguably the way it should be – the expected norm – and the value of having young domestic players training, preparing and playing amongst an experienced elite should not be underestimated.
If nothing else, the fact that Charlotte Edwards, arguably England’s most successful ever cricketer and captain, is yet to score a run in this year’s tournament is surely a sign that something, if not everything, is on the move. With the retirement of Edwards now impending, even imminent, and with a new English World Cup-winning captain firmly at the helm, a new era is in sight – and perhaps there will be a few new names to grace it.
Watch Kia Super League Finals Day live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 2pm on Friday.