Dramatic encounter to finish the season

A dramatic and spirited encounter at Emirates Old Trafford saw Thunder end their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy campaign with a five-wicket victory against Western Storm.

Half centuries from Emma Corney, Sophia Smale and skipper Sophie Luff led the Storm to 250 for seven with Thunder spin duo Olivia Bell and Liberty Heap taking three wickets apiece.

In reply, Thunder captain Ellie Threlkeld and Naomi Dattani posted the highest-ever partnership of 177 for Thunder, with both players making career-best List-A scores of 107 not out and 82 respectively to chase down their target with 20 balls to spare.

Corney and Smale made the perfect start for the Storm after Luff won the toss, compiling a 98-run partnership across the opening 20 overs. Corney, who played a confident range of shots on both sides of the wicket including a six over midwicket off Bell, reached an excellent 57-ball fifty but perished for 53 after hitting Bell to Tara Norris at long-on.

The introduction of Bell in the 14th over had started to apply the brakes to the Storm run-scoring and the off spinner next bowled Fran Wilson for 24 to give Thunder some further relief. Sophia Smale responded in fine fashion reaching her fifty off 77 balls before slicing a drive back to Bell who took a good diving to claim her third wicket.

Bell bowled her ten overs in one spell that produced a return of three for 30, and the 19-year-old has now taken 25 wickets from her last eight Thunder outings.

Birthday girl Liberty Heap backed that up with a further three wickets to bring Thunder back into the game, bowling Niamh Holland for a duck and Nat Wraith for eight with two sharply turning deliveries to have Storm 160 for five in the 35th over. She then broke a good 39-run partnership between Luff and Katie Jones when the latter top-edged a pull to Dani Collins at backward square leg for 16.

Luff, who had arrived at the crease at the fall of the second wicket, played a gem of an innings using all her experience to rotate the strike and keep the score moving on steadily, and she next joined forces with Chloe Skelton in an enterprising attacking partnership 50 partnership off 51 balls over the closing overs.

Visiting skipper Luff went to a 63-ball half century in the penultimate over of the innings before falling in the last, caught for 54 off Norris with Skelton unbeaten on 21.

Chasing 251, the Thunder made a disastrous start to their reply losing three wickets for 17 runs inside eight overs. Heap was run out without scoring, Seren Smale fell lbw to namesake Sophia for three who then held onto a good caught and bowled offering at the second attempt when Fi Morris drove back up the wicket having made 11.


Naomi Dattani and Ellie Threlkeld stopped the rot with a steadying partnership that initially added fifty inside 11 overs and the pair kept the momentum going, reaching the halfway point of the innings on 115 for three with 136 required. Once established the Thunder duo played their shots and ran cleverly putting the visitors under increasing pressure, with both reaching fifties Threlkeld from 54 balls and Dattani 83 balls.

It took a spectacular one-handed diving catch by Holland off her own bowling to break the partnership and dismiss Dattani for her List-A best score of 82, leaving Thunder on 194 for four and needing 57 off 67 balls.

Threlkeld finished the job from that point, reaching a century from 107 balls and getting good support from Laura Delaney (22) and Dani Collins (12 not out) before hitting her 14th boundary to win the game in the 47th over and finish unbeaten on 107.