Cricket – Western Storm triumph in the KIA Super League
The County Cricket Ground in Hove played host to the finals day of the KIA Super League on the 1st September. The first match of the day saw Surrey Stars face off against Western Storm. The Stars had looked set for an automatic final place having won their first four matches of the group stage, but fell to a surprise loss to Loughborough Lightning in their last match. Storm, by contrast, had only secured their semi-final spot thanks to victory against bottom side Lancashire Thunder.
Stars won the toss and elected to bat first, but made a slow start and saw Tammy Beaumont fall in the fifth over, shortly followed by Lizelle Lee, leaving the Stars 18-2 after 5.4 overs. Captain Nat Sciver and Marizanna Kapp steadied the ship, adding 24 runs for the third wicket, and Kapp and Sophia Dunkley-Smith added another 21 for the fourth. When Kapp fell, Dunkley-Smith was joined by Bryony Smith, and the two guided the Stars to the final over, before both fell to stumpings by Rachel Priest off the bowling of Anya Shrubsole, before Storm’s captain Heather Knight caught Rene Farrell, leaving Shrubsole as the pick of the bowlers with 3-22 from her four overs.
Storm’s response started disastrously, as Knight, Fran Wilson, Priest and Sophie Luff all fell within the first four overs, leaving the Storm 17-4. Georgia Hennessy and Stafanie Taylor recovered the situation, adding 44 runs in just under 10 overs, before Hennessy fell to Laura March. Alice Macleod quickly followed, before Shrubsole made a quickfire 12, and Jodie Dibble joined Taylor to see the Storm over the line with seven balls remaining, and through to the final against defending KIA Super League champions Southern Vipers.
Western Storm won the toss for the final, and elected to field. Vipers’ opening batswomen Hayley Matthews and Suzie Bates started strongly, combining for 47 runs for the opening wicket, before Matthews was caught and bowled by Stafanie Taylor towards the end of the eighth over. In Taylor’s next over, she had Georgia Taylor stumped by Rachel Priest and trapped Bates lbw to leave the Vipers 63-3. The Vipers continued to score strongly, with Danielle Wyatt and Mignon du Preez adding 37 for the fourth wicket, du Preez and Arran Thompson adding 17 for the fifth, and Thompson and captain Charlotte Edwards taking the team to the end of the 20 overs, adding a further 28 runs, to set the Storm a challenging 146 for victory.
That total represented the sixth highest score of the 2017 Super League, although Storm demonstrated in the group stage that they are capable of chasing big totals, having scored 161 to win against Yorkshire Diamonds. Rachel Priest was the bedrock of that total, and performed the same role in the final, scoring 72 off 200 balls. Captain Heather Knight and Fran Wilson contributed 6 and 8 runs respectively, but Stafanie Taylor and Sophie Luff added 30 each to meet the total with two overs remaining.
Tennis – Sevastova saves tournament blushes at US Open, as ‘March of the Americans’ continues
Having (in my opinion) sold their souls by granting Maria Sharapova a wild-card entry into the main draw following her drugs ban, US Open organisers would perhaps be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief as the lady making headlines for the wrong reasons was finally dumped out of the competition by Anastasija Sevastova. No doubt Sharapova was an excellent draw, particularly in the absence of Serena Williams, but to be complicit in the resurrection of a career stalled by a drugs ban is surely not the message that should be given to youngsters watching these major competitions. Much better surely to have required her to come through qualifying, and thereby earn her place on merit.
Focussing on her draw for the crowds also seems to have been a wrong step, since the competition so far has seen a ‘March of the Americans’, with one US participant in every quarter-final. Venus Williams represents the ‘old guard’, but has been ably supported by Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Coco Vendeweghe (not to mention: Jennifer Brady, who was knocked out by top seed Karolína Plíšková in the fourth round; Sofia Kenin, who lost to Sharapova in the third round; and Shelby Rogers, who lost to Elina Svitolina in the third round).
The Americans’ chances of victory also gained a boost on Sunday, with Garbiñe Muguruza falling to Petra Kvitová in the fourth round, with Kvitová’s fairytale recovery from the infamous knife attack continuing apace. Indeed, with Muguruza’s defeat, only the 1st, 9th, 13th and 16th seeds remain out of the top 16.
Netball – New Zealand win 2017 Quad Series
England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa competed in the 2017 Quad Series, facing off in a round robin format over a week. England had a mixed tournament, losing 54-50 to Australia, defeating New Zealand 49-45, and losing to South Africa 54-51, finishing third in the table, ahead of South Africa on goal difference. New Zealand took the title, mainly thanks to a 57-47 win against Australia in the final game of the tournament.
For England, Helen Housby finished the tournament with 82 goals and a conversion rate of 86%, followed by Kadeen Corbin (53 at 78%). South Africa’s Lenize Potgieter was the top-scorer with 126 goals at 91%.
COMING UP THIS WEEK
- Tennis: US Open – August 28th-September 9th
- Cycling: Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta – September 10th
- Mountain Biking: UCI World Championships, Cairns, Australia – September 5th-10th