Words by Fred Atkins, ECB Reporters Network
Lauren Bell took four for 37 as the Southern Vipers routed the South East Stars by 158 runs in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Beckenham.
Bell was twice on a hat-trick as she wiped out the Stars’ top order, before Charlie Dean then took three for 18 to bowl the hosts out for 129.
Earlier Ella McCaughan hit 67 and Maia Bouchier 59 in an opening stand of 117, before Georgia Elwiss came in and made 59 to set a stiff-looking 287 for six.
Alice Davidson-Richards had the best figures of the Stars’ nine bowlers with two for thirty, but it was a chastening afternoon for the home side after last week’s emphatic 131-run win at the Thunder.
The Stars had lost all six of their previous 50-over games with the Vipers, including last September’s “Eliminator” game at Beckenham, but any hopes their opponents might still be reeling from last Saturday’s shock defeat to the Sunrisers were ephemeral.
The Vipers chose to bat and took full advantage of both a benign wicket and a sub-optimal display by the Stars with the ball, which included 27 wides.
They offered few chances and when they did the hosts couldn’t take them.
Bouchier was on 42 when she pulled Alexa Stonehouse to mid-wicket and was dropped, while McCaughan survived a difficult stumping chance off Bryony Smith when on 34.
Paige Scholfield finally broke the partnership when she bowled Bouchier, who played on and Scholfield then caught McCaughan off Ryana MacDonald-Gay in the covers.
Davidson-Richards was the ninth bowler the Stars used, but she struck in her first over when she had Danni Wyatt caught at backward point by MacDonald-Gay for 22.
At that point the Vipers were 170 for three, which was the closest they came to a wobble. Georgia Elwiss and Georgia Adams responded with a stand of 76, the latter bringing up the 50 partnership with a six off Tash Farrant.
Farrant subsequently had Adams lbw for 31 and Charlie Dean made four when she chipped Freya Davies to Phoebe Franklin, before Elwiss hit the penultimate ball of the innings, from Davidson-Richards to Smith on the mid-on boundary.
The Stars made a bright start to the chase, racing to 26 for nought, only for Lauren Bell to strike twice in as many balls. She hit the top off Alice Capsey’s off stump to bowl her for 18 before getting MacDonald-Gay lbw for a golden duck.
Smith flicked the hat-trick ball to square leg for two but was out in Bell’s next over, the victim of a brilliant tumbling catch by Dean at extra-cover for seven.
Bell found herself on a hat-trick for the second time in the match when Davidson-Richards edged her to Bouchier in the slips but Kira Chatli blocked her next delivery.
It was a short-lived reprieve for Chatli, who was caught by Linsey Smith for 20 off Alice Monaghan.
Scholfield and Farrant hung around for a while but the former was bowled by Adams 31 and Dean then began to mop up the tail.
The end was nigh when she beat Farrant in the flight for 21, beating her in the flight and bowling her leg stump.
She then had Alexa Stonehouse caught by Adams for a duck and Franklin snared by McCaughan for nine and the victory was sealed when Freya Davies holed out to Monaghan and was caught by a diving Adams at long off.