A stellar all-round show from Nat Sciver in the eliminator helped Surrey Stars make the final before a brutal display from South African opening bat Lizelle Lee saw them win the Women’s Cricket Super League title for the first time.
The first game of Finals Day, which took place at Hove in Sussex, saw Surrey Stars face Western Storm, with the two teams having finished third and second in the table respectively. Stars struggled initially, slipping to 72/5, but recovered to post 162/5 thanks largely to an innings of 72 off 43 balls from their captain Sciver.
Stars were well placed, but the game was still a tight one as a quick half-century from England batsman Fran Wilson dragged Storm back into contention. Stars clung on to claim a nine-run victory, with Sciver again pivotal, bowling the last over and claiming figures of 2/21.
"From the position we were in it was a great score and one we could defend with the bowlers we have,” she said after the game. “A couple of things went our way and we held our nerve.”
Stars beat Storm on three occasions out of three this season, a fact which didn’t escape England captain and beaten Storm skipper Heather Knight.
"It was a tense finish,” she said. “What a great game. Credit to Surrey, they have been our bogey side and deserve to be in the final. It’s been a really good season but we ran out of steam at the end. We have worked hard and will watch the final and enjoy tonight.”
Sciver quickly put the victory behind her; with the final just over an hour away, she had other things on her mind. “I now want some food – I’m quite hungry – and then we’ll get going again!”
Alas, by the time the next toss came around, paying her dues to the fans left her with less time for sustenance than she might otherwise have wanted. “I’ve signed a lot of autographs, had a few selfies, had a couple of sandwiches and now we’re here!”
Empty stomach or not, she performed creditably in the final against Loughborough Lightning, making a 31-ball 40. But the star of the show was undoubtedly Lizelle Lee, who smashed a 58-ball 104, which contained 13 fours and six sixes. It was the first Finals Day hundred in the history of the WCSL. Three-fors from Dane van Niekerk and Mady Villiers then helped bowl out Lightning for 117, sealing a 66-run victory.
“Lizelle played an outstanding innings and Surrey performed a lot better than us on the day for whatever reason,” said Lightning captain Georgia Elwiss. “Our girls can hold their heads up high as they have had a terrific campaign and I am so proud of them. We started really well but hit some bumps along the way and showed great resilience.”
Stars too had a bumpy campaign, recovering from a rocky start and only just qualifying for Finals Day even having won only half of their group stage games.
“It means a lot,” said England wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor, who was playing her first campaign at the Stars having switched in the off-season. “We didn’t have the best of starts to the tournament so to come back and play the way we have, some really hard-fought games [is great]. To play the perfect game in the final means a lot.”