|Women’s Kia Super League 2019|
|Dates: 6 August – 1 September|
Lancashire Thunder’s new captain Kate Cross is one of several England players looking to put a “disappointing” Women’s Ashes series behind them when the Kia Super League gets under way on Tuesday.
Cross leads Thunder in what will be the fourth and final instalment of England’s domestic 20-over competition before it is replaced with a 100-ball city-based competition in 2020.
The 27-year-old said she was excited to return to Lancashire colours after a “tough” summer of international Cricket.
“I’m really proud. I’ve not managed to captain a side yet, so it will be my first experience of that,” she said.
“I love playing for Lancashire. I always love pulling this kit on and I’m really proud to be able to represent my county.
“We [England] felt like we let ourselves down in all facets of the game. We’ve had a lot of tough conversations in the last couple of weeks and we’ve all had a look at ourselves and we know we have to improve and set our standards higher to be able to beat those teams.
“In a way that’s exciting, and hopefully we have turned a corner now. There’s more to come.”
England’s players will be joined by a host of international stars, including several members of the Australia squad that handed them a 12-4 drubbing in the Ashes series.
So who is likely to reach Finals Day at Hove on 1 September?
It’s hard to see Southern Vipers, the two-time finalists and 2016 winners not making Finals Day. Their batting card looks the strongest on paper.
New Zealand’s Suzie Bates and West Indian Stafanie Taylor – first and third in the world T20I batting rankings – will line up alongside England stars Danielle Wyatt and new captain Tammy Beaumont.
However, the loss of Australia spinner Sophie Molineux to injury is a blow.
Defending champions Surrey Stars welcome back South Africa batsman Lizelle Lee this year. The 27-year-old’s century in the 2018 final set up a comfortable victory against Loughborough Lightning.
The Stars are packed with quality, including England internationals Nat Sciver, Sarah Taylor, Laura Marsh and Bryony Smith. South Africa all-rounders Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk add to the talent.
Last year’s leading run-scorer Smriti Mandhana is back for Western Storm. The India international scored 421 runs at an average of more than 60 in 2018 and is renowned as one of the world’s best batters. England captain Heather Knight and team-mate Anya Shrubsole form part of an experienced squad, but Taylor joining Southern Vipers is a big loss.
Loughborough Lightning sprung a surprise by reaching the 2018 final, but came up short against Lee’s masterclass with the bat. Their success was largely down to the bowling – three of the top four wicket-takers were Lightning players. Kirstie Gordon and Jenny Gunn will once again line up for them, but they are without New Zealand spinner Sophie Devine.
Yorkshire Diamonds have five new faces in their squad, including Australia wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy.
The 29-year-old has played almost 160 international matches and scored more than 2,500 runs for her country and may be the missing piece they need to get them to a first Finals Day.
Lancashire Thunder have also underachieved by never reaching a Finals Day considering the talent in their squad. Fast bowler Cross will skipper the side this year following Danielle Hazell’s retirement, while promising Australia international Tahlia McGrath is set to make her debut.
All six teams play each other twice.
The top three sides in the league go through to Finals Day at Hove on 1 September.
The second and third-placed teams then square off and face the league winners in the final.
Opening fixtures – 6 August
14:30 BST – Lancashire Thunder v Southern Vipers – Aigburth, Liverpool
16:00 – Loughborough Lightning v Western Storm – Haslegrave Ground, Loughborough
19:00 – Yorkshire Diamonds v Surrey Stars – Headingley
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