The opening weekend of the Kia Super League has to go down as a success on almost all fronts - decent crowds, good weather, good bowling, some great fielding - but perhaps the only let-down has been the batting, with the three losing teams only managing to score in the 80s. But batting is a pretty unforgiving art - one mistake and you are on your way. There is no doubt that all the girls were nervous and there was pressure to perform on the big stage. It seems, on the whole, the bowlers handled it better than the batsmen, but I expect that to change as the tournament goes along.
And so the show rapidly moves on to the next few games - they will come thick and fast over the next two weeks. This week sees Loughborough Lightning host Lancashire Thunder on Wednesday and then Western Storm on Friday; on Thursday Surrey Stars take on Yorkshire Diamonds at the Oval in a floodlit game; also on Friday the Southern Vipers travel to Blackpool to take on the Thunder; and then on Sunday the Storm will battle it out with the Stars at Bristol. So by Sunday evening the Lightning, the Thunder, the Stars and the Storm will all have played three of their five league games.
First up are the Lightning, who comprehensively defeated the Yorkshire Diamonds in their opening game (read here). They take on the Thunder, who lost to Western Storm in their first (read here). The Lightning will be the favourites on home turf, but their strong top order could be well tested by the Cross, Ecclestone, Dottin bowling combo that the Thunder have at their disposal. If they can get amongst them, then this match could be a lot closer than people think. Thunder's problem against the Storm was their batting. It looks rather thin, but it only needs Matthews, Dottin or Wyatt to come off and they could be in business. It is generally a good batting track at Loughborough, so one of these three will really need to get their hands through the ball. The same of course applies to Lightning's international top order of Elwiss, van Niekerk, Devine, Perry and Amy Jones. Devine could be the key wicket for the Thunder, as she looks in good form with the bat. My head says the Lightning will win, but I just have a nagging doubt. Could Thunder pull off a shock?
Thursday gives the Stars and the Diamonds the chance to get some points on the board after opening game defeats, and my money would be on the Diamonds to take away at least two points, if not three, from the game. Surrounded by a lot of inexperienced young batsmen there is a huge amount of pressure on Stars' Tammy Beaumont and Nat Sciver not to give away their wickets. Naturally that stifles their strokeplay and frustrates them. In Brunt, Hazell and Gunn the Diamonds have the bowlers to compound that frustration. I also wonder if we might see Beth Mooney promoted to open the batting with skipper Lauren Winfield for the Diamonds. The left/right combination is annoying for bowlers, and Mooney has the ability to hit in the V really well. Perhaps if the Diamonds bat first, so she has not already spent 20 overs behind the stumps? We shall see.
Given that the Lightning are involved in the Friday game against the Storm I will wait to see how the Lightning play on Wednesday (a game that I will be going to see) before previewing that game, the Thunder v Vipers clash, and Storm's Sunday outing against the Stars.