Nicole inspires Western Storm to victory over Thunder

Nicole Harvey produced her best bowling performance of the tournament to propel Western Storm to a seven-wicket Charlotte Edwards Cup win over Thunder at Cardiff.

The 28-year-old Welsh Fire leg spinner claimed 3-13 in four overs as Thunder were restricted to 100-9 in their 20 overs, only Emma Lamb and Eleanor Threlkeld making it into double figures. Storm took the pace off the ball to good effect and held their catches in a disciplined fielding display, Georgia Hennessy, Claire Nicholas and Fi Morris all making telling contributions.

Hennessy and Katie George then scored 29 not out and 47 not out respectively, staging a match-winning unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 67 in 11.2 overs as Storm, playing in the Welsh capital for the first time, reached their target with 14 balls to spare to complete the double over the Group B leaders and revive their prospects of qualifying for Finals Day.

Put into bat on a slow, green-tinged Sophia Gardens pitch, Thunder nevertheless made a brisk start, Lamb forcing the issue in an opening stand of 32 in 5.9 overs with Georgia Boyce. In decent form following a stint with Manchester Originals in the Hundred, Lamb raised 28 from 20 balls, including three boundaries, to suggest a big score was on the cards.

But Storm captain Sophie Luff’s decision to deploy spin from both ends during the power-play paid dividends, the returning Claire Nicholas running out Boyce for eight with a superb pick-up-and-throw from mid-on and then inducing Lamb to hit straight to Fi Morris at long-on in the next over. Lauren Parfitt conceded a miserly nine runs in three overs to create pressure and, when Harvey struck with her third ball from the River End to bowl Natalie Brown for one, Thunder had lost three wickets in 11 balls and the balance of power had fundamentally shifted.

Harvey’s slow left arm made further in-roads, Kate Cross miss-timing a drive to long-on and Laura Marshall holing out to George at deep mid-wicket as the visitors subsided to 56-5. Harvey’s three wickets in as many overs served to undermine the middle order, after which Thunder were reliant upon Threlkeld to dig them out of trouble. She had advanced her score to 22 from 27 balls when off spinner Morris bowled her, while Hennessy uprooted Alice Dyson’s off stump as seam at last made a wicket-taking contribution.

Hennessy then ran out Danielle Collins for seven and Alex Hartley fell to the final delivery, sent down by Lauren Filer, as Thunder came up short on 100-9.

Thunder needed to take early wickets and Lamb and Hannah Jones obliged, removing Morris and Dani Gibson inside four overs to sow seeds of doubt in Storm minds. Slow left armer Hartley then located Luff’s outside edge and Threlkeld took a smart catch standing up to reduce Storm to 34-3 before Hennessy and George joined forces to restore order to the chase.

If Hennessy looked secure throughout in seeking to carry her bat, George adopted a more expansive role, scoring freely either side of the wicket in accruing 47 from 46 balls, with 8 fours. Hennessy’s sound judgment yielded a solitary boundary in a well-paced innings that spanned 42 balls and served to calm any nerves among teammates watching from the dressing room balcony.

At the end of the match, Harvey said: “Having played here in the Hundred, we had an idea of how the wicket would play and being familiar with the conditions definitely helped. We came up with a game-plan based around taking pace off the ball and I thought we executed it really well.

“We bowled to plan, we fielded well and, then Katie (George) and Georgia (Hennessy) finished it off in style with the bat. We bat pretty deep, so even at 34-3, we felt confident that we could chase that total. In the end, we did it fairly comfortably and this win sets us up nicely for our final two games against Diamonds and Sunrisers. We’re in it to win it, so the plan is to win the next two games and take it all the way to finals day if we can.”