Match Report provided by the ECB Reporters Network.
England trio Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone and Emma Lamb impressed with the ball and the latter with the bat as well to help Thunder secure a commanding Charlotte Edwards Cup victory over Sunrisers at Emirates Old Trafford - the region’s first success of 2023.
All three are in contention to play in this summer’s home Ashes from next month and shared five wickets to limit Sunrisers to 116 for eight having elected to bat, laying the platform for a seven-wicket win with 21 balls remaining.
They were miserly with either seam or spin, with Cross’s two for 20 from four overs of seam the most encouraging having battled against a tropical disease in recent weeks. Ecclestone struck once with her left-arm spin and Lamb twice with her off-spin.
After her two for 24, Lamb then added 31 in Thunder’s aggressive chase. But it was her opening partner Liberty Heap who shone with a career best 46 off 49 balls in all T20 cricket. It was also the 19-year-old’s highest score in senior regional cricket.
This was Thunder’s first victory in eight 50-over and T20 matches in 2023, including back-to-back defeats at the start of the Charlotte Edwards Cup. For Sunrisers, they have now played three and lost three in this competition.
Cross, who recently revealed that she had to go through nine courses of antibiotics to treat an illness picked up abroad in pre-season, set the tone with the second ball of only her fifth match of the season.
She uprooted the off-stump of South African legend Dane van Niekerk for nought, a peach of an away-swinger leaving Sunrisers at nought for one.
Cordelia Griffith came in and played positively for 36 off 35 balls, including two boundaries in as many balls against the off-spin of Fi Morris - the first lofted over mid-off and the second seared through cover.
But she was the second wicket for Cross when she miscued high to mid-off, leaving the score at 64 for three in the 12th over.
Crucially, only one other batter, Flo Miller from number seven, reached 20.
She was bowled by former team-mate Naomi Dattani in the final over an innings which saw Thunder captain Ellie Threlkeld chop and change through seven different bowlers to deny Sunrisers any rhythm on the same pitch used for Thursday’s T20 double header day.
While Lamb returned two for 24 from her four overs, Ecclestone was the most economical bowler on show with one for 14 from her four.
Her wicket of Amara Carr caught at mid-off following a miscue was sandwiched in between the two Lamb strikes as Sunrisers slumped to 81 for six in the 15th over.
Lamb had Grace Scrivens caught at cover and bowled Jo Gardner.
Lamb later gave Thunder the ideal start to what proved a serene chase, clipping a boundary through midwicket as 10 came from Kate Coppack’s first over.
In 2021, Lamb became the first batter to ever score a century in this competition when she did it against Sunrisers at Old Trafford.
Both openers played their shots, and Heap made the most of being dropped on 16.
Thunder reached 50 without loss after seven overs, by which time the game was only going one way.
Heap maintained pace with her more experienced partner and overtook her after Lamb had been trapped lbw sweeping at captain Kelly Castle’s off-spin - 64 for one in the 10th over.
Morris flicked the off-spin of Mady Villiers to short fine-leg shortly afterwards, leaving the score at 74 for two in the 11th, but Heap gained support from West Indian overseas Deandra Dottin to get their side over the line.
Unbeaten Dottin crashed two big straight sixes in 26 off 15 balls, while Heap was bowled by Eva Gray just shy of 50 with only 10 to win.