Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Warks' stumble allows Kent to take T20 title

It was a dramatic last day in the all too short T20 County Cup, with Kent eventually running out winners of the T20 title; Warwickshire being forced to settle for second; Sussex beating Berkshire to send Notts into Div 2 next year; and last year's Div 1 relagatees - Somerset and Surrey coming straight back up into Div 1.

The top of the table action was at Beckenham, where Kent hosted table-toppers Warwickshire and Middlesex. Warwickshire knew they just had to win one of their games. Kent knew they had to win both of theirs, and hope that Middlesex could do them a huge favour.

In the first game Kent comfortably dispatched Middlesex, chasing down 111/6 with just three wickets down and nine balls to spare. Suzie Bates took 3/18 and made 28, but top batsman was Alice Davidson-Richards (30).

Next up it was Warwickshire's chance to seal their first T20 title as they took on Middlesex, but it was not to be. Warwickshire posted a decent 137/8 based around openers Gerogia Hennessy (36) and Amy Jones (29), but an unbeaten third wicket partnership of 98 between Fran Wilson (61*) and Beth Morgan (43*) brought Middlesex home, again with nine balls to spare, as Warwickshire tried eight different bowlers.

It meant the last game was a showdown between Kent and Warwickshire - winner take all. Kent decided to chase, and another decent opening stand of 71 - Jones 40, Hennessy 37, put Warwickshire in a decent position, but they could only manage to put 126/4 on the board at the end of their 20 overs. It didn't look enough until the last five overs or so. Kent had been cruising at 71 without loss, but then lost Bates (43), Edwards (4) and Beaumont (36) to be 88/3 with five overs to come. With 18 balls to come Kent still needed 30 to win with Davidson-Richards and Lydia Greenway at the crease. They took 23 from the 18th and 19th over to leave them needing just seven runs from the last, which they achieved off four balls, to claim their third T20 title.

Meanwhile last year's winners, Sussex, found themselves in unfamiliar territory trying to stave off relegation, as they hosted Notts and Berks. Sussex, without a win, first took on Notts, also struggling at the foot of the table. Notts were invited to bat and Sussex made the perfect start as Freya Davies
(1/6) and Ellen Burt (1/11) bowled three maidens in the powerplay and kept Notts down to 13/2 after six overs. Notts struggled on to make 94/9. In reply Georgia Adams (58) and Georgia Elwiss (15) put on 67 for the first wicket and Sussex cantered home two wickets down and with more than four overs to spare.

Sussex's Ellen Burt removes Notts' Abbey Hawkins
(c) Don Miles
It meant if Notts lost their next game to Berkshire then Sussex would be safe in Division 1 for another season. Berkshire batted first and made a horrible start and were soon 33/4, but importantly Heather Knight (60*) was still there. Had a simple chance at cover been taken early on, then things would have been far worse. Together with Carla Rudd (36*) she set about rebuilding the innings, and eventually took Berkshire to a creditable, if unspectacular, 122/4. It looked a tall order for a Notts side that has found runs hard to come by, and when they lost their anchor, Sonia Odedra, in the second over, Notts' goose looked cooked. But the Notts middle order had other ideas - Georgie Boyce (32), Abbey Hawkins (23), Jane Smit (35), and Kirstie Gordon (17) kept Notts in touch but they still needed 50 off the last six overs, which they reduced to 15 off the last 12 balls. 10 from the 19th over meant they needed just five runs from the last, but two wickets for Heather Knight from the first three balls meant it was four off three balls. With the fifth ball of the over they levelled the scores and then finally got over the line from the last ball of the game. It was a great effort.

And so relegation came down to the last game of the day. Elsewhere Yorkshire had taken themselves out of the equation by comfortably beaten Lancashire in a rain-affected game. If Sussex lost to Berkshire then they would be relegated.

Sussex won the toss and again inserted their opponents, who were 40/1 at the end of the powerplay. In the ninth over Tara Norris (2/12) accounted for the England skipper, but Kiwi Rachel Priest (60) was still there, and when Berkshire added 37 from the last four overs, they finished on 130/6 - the highest score of the day. Sussex made a sedate start in reply and were only 8/0 after three overs, but Georgia Adams (25) crashed 18 off Heather Knight's only over of the game, which seemed to settle the Sussex nerves. When Adams and Elwiss (30) perished Sussex were ahead of the rate and Danni Wyatt (44) and Sara McGlashan (26*) made sure things stayed that way as Sussex cruised up almost to parity. As a result Knight threw the ball to Kiwi keeper Priest (not keeping in this game) to bowl the 17th over with Sussex needing just five to win. Wyatt, keen to finish the game, swung hard, but edged through to keeper Rudd, much to the delight of all the Berkshire players, and the amusement of Wyatt's Sussex teammates. The game ended next over when McGlashan dabbed the winning run to third man, and Sussex sighed a collective sigh of relief.

In Division 2 Somerset could only win one of their last two games, beating Durham, but crashing to Worcestershire in their other. It was however enough to secure them top spot in the division, as Wales could also only win one of their two games. They beat Hampshire, but then lost to Staffs. It left the door open for Surrey, who barged their way through it due to the surprise appearance of Saffer Marizanne Kapp in a Surrey shirt. She took 2/16 and then made 64* as Surrey waltzed passed Essex's 117/4 with 22 balls to spare. It meant they snatched second spot from Wales.

Coming up from Division 3 will be undefeated Scotland, and Derbyshire, who defeated rivals Devon. It has been a good couple of weeks for Scotland, who recently beat Netherlands in the 50 over format to get through to the World Cup qualifiers early next year.

So County T20s done. Focus is now on the KSL before the County Championship returns at the end of August.


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