All roads lead to Sussex County Cricket Club’s Ist Central County Ground at the Hove, Brighton, on Sunday as the cricketers of Western Storm go for super league glory – and thousands more will be watching the action live on Sky TV.
The Storm booked their place in the KLS finals day – and a passport directly into the final itself – a couple of games ago after a spectacular campaign which saw them lose just one of their 10 group matches.
Loughborough Lightning and the Southern Vipers will be battling it out in the semi-final to see who will take on the Storm, who won the KLS competition in 2017, in the final showdown
The finals are being beamed live from the Hove on Sky Sports from 11.45am.
The Storm’s West Country fan base, including the staff of Devon solicitors and sponsors Wollens, will be hoping to cheer them on to victory.
Wollens chief executive Chris Hart said: “The Storm have done us all immensely proud this season. We wish them all the best for the final.”
The Storm were hoping to make it a maximum 10 wins out of 10 games in the group stages but they fell at the final hurdle when they were beaten by the Yorkshire Diamonds at Somerset CCC’s rain-battered Taunton ground on Wednesday.
The home side decided to bat first in a game reduced to 10 overs a side. They must have regretted the decision when openers Smriti Mandhana and Rachel Priest both went cheaply.
A stand of 76 between Fran Wilson (45 from 20 balls) and Sophie Luff (31 from 18) rescued the innings for the Storm who finished on 104-4.
The Lightning side lived up to its name early doors as they wasted no time in chasing down the total. Freya Davies (3-7 from two overs) did her best with the ball but Jemimah Rodrigues (60 from 27 balls) led the visitors to victory.
It was an emotional night for the Storm as it signalled their last game at Taunton as part of a big shake-up in women’s cricket.
From next summer the KLS is being replaced by The Hundred, a new competition which will feature eight, city-based men’s and women’s teams – but West Country fans will miss out on the action.
Storm captain Heather Knight told ITV Westcountry: “We’ve had an amazing time here, we’ve absolutely loved it. The support is the best in the country, we’ve really built something here, but we’ll just reflect and think of the good times we’ve had and hopefully people continue to support women’s cricket whatever it looks like in the region next year.”
The Storm gave out their end-of-season awards after Wednesday’s game. Batter of the year was won by Fran Wilson.
Bowler of the year was Freya Davis.
Deepti Sharma won the Champagne Moment award and skipper Knight picked up the Outstanding Achievement award.
A lot of focus will on Indian batting sensation Mandhana on Sunday.
She has been talking about life in the West Country,
She told ITV Westcountry that she is living her parents’ dream by becoming one of the best players in the world.
She said she is enjoying her stay in the UK and added: “If you score a hundred and the team doesn’t win, it doesn’t give you that much joy. The ultimate goal is that the team wins. If I get out on 20 or 30 and we win the match, that gives me more joy than scoring a century and losing the match.”
She says she owes a lot to her parents: “It was my father and mother’s dream that I should be playing for India and playing well. It was more about living their dream, my father always wanted to be a cricketer, but he never got that kind of support from his parents, so he wanted to give all that support to me and my brother. They are always excited if I’m playing a match.”
(Heather Knight Pictured above)