We’ve reached the business end of the Kia Super League group stages. Here’s everything you need to know about the tournament’s second week.
At the end of the Kia Super League’s second week, two teams have qualified for Finals Day, while one is out of the running completely. Table-toppers Surrey Stars beat Southern Vipers and Western Storm to confirm their place at Hove, while holders Southern Vipers recovered from their loss against Stars to smash Lancashire Thunder and will also contest Finals Day.
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Thunder, meanwhile, with four losses from four – they were also beaten by Loughborough Lightning this week – are the only team out of contention, with Storm, Yorkshire Diamonds, and Lightning all in contention going into the final day of group stage games. Storm, having beaten Diamonds, and Diamonds, having beaten Lightning, are both on eight points, while Lightning, on five, will need both of those teams to lose, as well as winning themselves, if they are to qualify.
Here are the best performers from the Kia Super League’s second week, as well as some of the major talking points thrown up.
Best of week two
Best Overseas: Lizelle Lee
There have been a few contenders for this crown in Week 2. Ellyse Perry, clearly angered by AOC’s suggestion that she was being outshone by the game’s other elite allrounders, put on a match-defining display against Lancashire Thunder, scoring 78* before taking 2-9. Rachel Priest became the second woman to score a KSL century in Storm’s 10-wicket win against Diamonds, while Atapattu continued her stellar maiden KSL season with a 40-ball 66* and two wickets against Lightning.
But Surrey Stars’ Lizelle Lee is a worthy winner of our crown after smashing 40 off 24 and 72 off 44 against Southern Vipers and Western Storm respectively. After an inauspicious start to the season – she missed Stars’ first game due to visa troubles, and then registered a duck in their second game – Lee showed why she’s thought of as one of the most ferocious ball-strikers in the world, a bruiser perfectly suited to opening in this format. Together with Tammy Beaumont, Marizanne Kapp, and Nat Sciver, she completes a fearsome top-four that will take some stopping come Finals Day.
Best England player: Katherine Brunt
Another player who is perfectly suited to this format, given her propensity for giving the ball a whack and bowling short, sharp spells. With the ball she’s been as good as ever, maintaining a tight economy of under 5, but it’s with the bat that she’s reached a new level of consistency, scoring above 20 in each of her four innings, and all at a blistering strike-rate of 171, fully justifying her position in Diamonds’ top four.
Best Unknown: Sarah Glenn
At just 18 years of age, Sarah Glenn is already making her mark on the Kia Super League. Having tallied up 36 runs for one dismissal in her first two games, she won a promotion to the top of the order for her team’s game against Lancashire Thunder, with Amy Jones ruled out with a finger injury. And though it was Perry who stole the headlines, Glenn’s contribution – 21 off 22 balls, and figures of 2-8 – shouldn’t be undervalued, especially considering only one other Lightning batsman made it into double figures. She has perhaps even given Lightning a headache about what to do when Amy Jones returns.
Do TFCs help anyone?
Evaluating the success of the Kia Super League is a tricky job. It should be, and is, a competitive tournament that stands on its own as exciting and worth watching, but it is also supposed to be a proving ground for the next generation of England stars, and one can’t help but wonder whether more can be done in this regard.
Let’s take two Surrey Stars players as examples, Bryony Smith and Grace Gibbs. Smith was one of the finds of last year’s tournament, providing brisk starts from the top of the order, but this year, with Lee opening for Stars, she’s been pushed down to a lower-middle order role, not one to which she is suited, and she has, predictably, struggled. Then there is Gibbs, who has faced two balls all season and is yet to bowl, hardly giving her experience in pressure situations.
There is of course value in being around and training with the game’s superstars, and it is not Stars’ fault that Gibbs and Smith aren’t being utilised – they have a tournament to win, and as such want to use their best players as much as possible. But it is still a shame. Perhaps the suggestion by Syd Egan on crickether.com that a playing condition be introduced requiring all players in the XI to either bat in the top six or bowl in the top five is worth looking into?
Bates is out, finally!
After three red-inkers – and more than 200 runs – in her first three knocks, we began to wonder if Suzie Bates would ever be dismissed again, with no bowler seeming to have an answer to her fearsome form. It took some international quality to do the trick, with Aussie twirler having Bates caught by her New Zealand compatriot Amy Satterthwaite. It is possible!