The best and the rest of the Kia Super League’s first week.
After two rounds of Kia Super League 2, the table is starting to take shape. Southern Vipers have been the early pace-setters, registering two near-flawless bonus-point victories over Western Storm and Loughborough Lightning. Surrey Stars, also with two wins from two, currently sit in second place.
Making up the mid-table are Yorkshire Diamonds and Western Storm, each having won one and lost one, while bringing up the rear, and yet to get on the board, are Loughborough Lightning and Lancashire Thunder. Here’s who’s starred and who’s struggled in the tournament’s first week.
Best of Week One
Best overseas: Suzie Bates
If there were any fears that some hangover from a disappointing World Cup campaign would harm Suzie Bates’ performance in the Kia Super League, she has firmly put those to rest – five wickets at a cost of 4.6 runs apiece and 166 runs without being dismissed represent a stunning start to her KSL campaign.
The highlight was the first ever Kia Super League century, a dominant knock of 119* against Loughborough Lightning, while her importance to her team’s cause is demonstrated by the astonishing fact that she’s scored 66 per cent of their runs so far.
Best England player: Nat Sciver
Sciver was the only player at the World Cup to score more than one century, and she’s continued her excellent form in Surrey Stars blue. Like Bates, she is yet to be dismissed, and her 74 runs put her behind only the New Zealander in this tournament. Sciver has arguably contributed at more vital times as well, helping Stars recover from 37-2 chasing 101, and 79-5 when setting a target. With the ball too, her variations and nous have proven incisive – she so far has four wickets at a cost of 9.25 runs each.
Best unknown: Alice Davidson-Richards
For Yorkshire Diamonds and Davidson-Richards, the inaugural Kia Super League was a disappointment – the Diamonds won just a single game all season, while Davidson-Richards didn’t bowl, and made a highest score of just 10. But she and her team started this season with a bang, comfortably overcoming Lancashire Thunder, in large part thanks to a superb all-round display from the youngster.
Her 22 off 13 balls gave Diamonds the late impetus they needed to reach a winning total, before her figures of 3-20 sealed victory by 28 runs. A decent showing – 13 with the bat, 1-23 with the ball – in Diamonds’ second game, a loss to Surrey Stars, suggests she might have the consistency to become a key member of their side. Perhaps, aged just 23, she could even be on her way to putting herself in England contention.
Perry fails to shine
Ellyse Perry hasn’t had a bad tournament so far – she was Loughborough Lightning’s top-scorer in their first game – but it’s telling that in both games she has been far outshone by two players with whom she is in competition for the title of best allrounder in the world. In the first, Stafanie Taylor claimed figures of 4-5 before scoring 34, while in the second Perry fell prey to Bates’ onslaught. This is a problem for more than just her reputation, as perhaps no team rely more on one player than Lightning do on her; against Storm she had more international caps than the rest of her teammates put together. If the Australian is unable to recapture her stellar World Cup and 2016 form, then a second Finals Day appearance may well be beyond Lightning.
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We could do with a thriller
There has been plenty of quality on-show in this tournament so far, and no-one who has seen Bates or Taylor or Rene Farrell light up the field could feel short-changed, but there is the sense that this competition is yet to fully ignite, with most games ending up being fairly one-sided. That could change this week, especially with a mouth-watering clash between Vipers and Stars set for this Sunday, the result of which could go a long way to deciding who tops the table come the end of August.
Who has stood out for you in this year’s Kia Super League? Let us know in the comments.