Before Heap leads the Thunder chase, Cross and Lamb are among the wickets

before heap
The ball is steered behind square by Liberty Heap

Thunder defeated Sunrisers handily at Emirates Old Trafford to win the Charlotte Edwards Cup, the region’s first victory of 2023. England’s trio of Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone, and Emma Lamb all showed impressive bowling abilities, with the latter also showing promise with the bat.

All three are potentially eligible to participate in this summer’s home Ashes beginning next month. They shared five wickets to restrict Sunrisers to 116 for 8 after choosing to bat, setting up a seven-wicket victory with 21 balls left.

They were stingy with either seam or spin; Cross’s 2 for 20 from four overs of seam was the most encouraging after his previous struggle with a tropical illness. With her left-arm spin, Ecclestone scored one goal, while Lamb scored two with her offspin.

When Thunder aggressively pursued her after her 2 for 24, Lamb added 31. With a career-high 46 off 49 balls, her opening partner Liberty Heap stood out. In senior regional cricket, it was also the 19-year-old’s highest score.

Including back-to-back losses at the Charlotte Edwards Cup’s beginning, this was Thunder’s first triumph in eight 50-over and T20 games in 2023. As of this point in the competition, Sunrisers have played three games and dropped three of them.

Cross, who recently disclosed that she had to take nine courses of antibiotics to recover from a preseason illness she contracted while traveling abroad, established the tone with the second ball of just her fifth match of the year.

Dane van Niekerk, a former South African international, had his off stump uprooted by her for nothing, leaving Sunrisers at 0 for 1.

When Cordelia Griffith entered the game, she performed well, scoring 36 runs off 35 balls, including two boundaries in as many balls, one lofted over mid-off and the other scorched over cover, both off the offspin of Fi Morris. The score was 64 for 3 in the 12th over when she miscued high to mid-off, becoming Cross’ second wicket.

Importantly, only one other batter, Flo Miller of position seven, made it to 20. In the final over of an innings in which Thunder skipper Ellie Threlkeld rotated through seven different bowlers to prevent Sunrisers from getting into any sort of rhythm on the same surface as Thursday’s T20 double-header day, she was bowled by her former teammate Naomi Dattani.

Ecclestone was the most efficient bowler on display with 21 for 14 from her four overs, while Lamb returned 2 for 24 from her four.

Her dismissal of Amara Carr, who was misplayed and caught at mid-off, came between the two Lamb strikes as Sunrisers fell to 81 for 6 in the 15th over. Grace Scrivens was caught by Lamb at cover, and Jo Gardner was bowled.

Later, Lamb gave Thunder the perfect start to what turned out to be a calm pursuit, clipping a boundary through midwicket as 10 came off Kate Coppack’s opening over.

Both of the openers executed their opportunities, and Heap capitalized on being dropped on a 16. After seven overs, when Thunder had reached 50 without losing, the game was clearly headed in one direction.

Heap kept up with her more seasoned partner until Lamb was stuck lbw sweeping at captain Kelly Castle’s offspin, leaving Thunder 64 for 1 in the 10th over. At that point, Heap passed her.

After Morris flicked Mady Villiers’ offspin to short fine leg, the score was 74 for 2 in the 11th over. However, Heap received assistance from Deandra Dottin, a West Indian international player, to help her team win.

Unbeaten Dottin smashed two massive straight sixes in 26 off 15 balls, while Heap was bowled by Eva Gray just short of 50 with 10 to win.