Women’s Kia Super League
Western Storm v Lancashire Thunder, Taunton
Plymouth’s Heather Knight hailed the power of the home crowd after a superb all-round performance steered Western Storm to victory in their first outing of the Women’s Kia Super League.
Captaining the South West outfit at Taunton in the new Twenty20 competition on Sunday, England skipper Knight shone with bat and ball in a four-wicket win over Lancashire Thunder in front of 1,100 spectators.
“The crowd were brilliant today, they really got behind us and were really vocal,” Knight told The Herald.
“We’ve always had brilliant support down here when we’ve played with England. To see that again in a domestic game is unheard of in the women’s game in this country.
“Hopefully word will spread.”
The visitors chose to bat first but struggled to move through the gears and lost regular wickets.
In the fourth over South African Lizelle Lee took a superb catch off Freya Davies, running backwards on the boundary to dismiss the dangerous Hayley Matthews.
She followed it up with an even better effort to snare Emma Lamb as Storm applied the pressure with tight spin bowling and disciplined fielding.
Thunder’s West Indian import Deandra Dottin looked stylish in her brief innings of 15 before holing out off compatriot Stafanie Taylor, one of four wickets for the impressive all-rounder.
Knight, whose golden arm has worked wonders for England over the last couple of years, bowled Natasha Miles round her legs for one in her second over, before trapping Laura Marshall LBW the very next ball.
Taylor mirrored her captain minutes later, taking two in two to leave Thunder tottering on 73-8.
Knight dived athletically to her right to catch Ellie Threlkeld off her own bowling, rounding off figures of 3-10 as Thunder collapsed to 83 all out.
Having shared 7-25 with the ball, Knight and Taylor put on 35 for the second wicket, showing their experience by running tight singles before the Jamaican was stumped for 14 off Matthews.
Fran Wilson executed a couple of cheeky reverse-sweeps in her 16, but her dismissal sparked a middle order wobble.
Lizelle Lee was trapped LBW by Dottin without scoring, and Knight was bowled by Sophie Edmondson for a composed 23.
Georgia Hennessy, Sophie Luff and Anya Shrubsole steadied the ship to ensure victory with four overs to spare.
“Our fielding was outstanding, it was really nice to start well,” Knight said afterwards.
“It probably wasn’t the perfect performance – we made it a bit interesting at the end, losing a few wickets – but nice to get the first match nerves out of the way and get a win on the board.”
Knight says she is relishing the challenge of captaining a new team of stars.
“We came together a couple of weeks ago and it’s been really exciting to get to know how people function, how the bowlers work, get the plans right.
“The group has gelled really well and it’s exciting to see where we can go in this competition.”