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Lightning boosted by returning Villani

Monday 14th August 2017
& News
Written by Danny Painter

Loughborough Lightning will be boosted by the availability of Australia star Elyse Villani when they take on defending champions Southern Vipers at The 3aaa County Ground on Tuesday (2.30pm start).

The 27-year-old batter, a key signing for Lightning in their quest to reach finals day for the second year running, missed the five-wicket loss to Western Storm in Taunton on Saturday because of a shoulder injury but is expected to be fit to face the Vipers..

Head coach Salliann Briggs conceded Villani’s absence had been a major blow to her side’s hopes of making a winning start against Storm, who beat them at the semi-final stage of the inaugural KSL in 2016.

“Elyse is an experienced campaigner who can bat anywhere in the top five so we missed that level head definitely,” she said.

“We had a good powerplay but there was a little bit of inexperience in the middle order and ultimately we didn’t get enough runs.

“There was an unfortunate run out with Ellyse Perry and when we lost those three wickets in one over realistically there was no coming back from that.”

Villani is expected to return against the Charlotte Edwards-led Vipers, who beat Lightning by 59 runs at the Ageas Bowl last year.

“It was one of those where Elyse maybe could have played but we had to run it by Cricket Australia and they just wanted to make sure she was okay, which is fair enough with the Ashes coming up,” Briggs added.

Lightning opened with Perry and England wicketkeeper Amy Jones, and it is likely that one of the middle order batters will make way for Villani.

Although disappointed with the result, Briggs saw some positives in the performance, with Warwickshire’s Marie Kelly and 19-year-old Lucy Higham, the Leicestershire off-spinner, acquitting themselves well on their KSL debuts and Aussie leg-spinner Kristen Beams leading a good response from the bowlers that took the match to the final over.

“We were pleased with the bottom order for getting us to 108 from the position we were in with Marie Kelly and Lucy Higham coming in,” Briggs said.

“And we showed great fight in taking it to the last over.  Credit to the bowlers who bowled fantastically and we executed our plans in that department.”

Vipers thrashed Storm by nine wickets in their 2017 opener, with New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates the star of the show, taking 2-8 with the ball and smashing 47 off 31 balls, including six fours and two sixes.

“It will be another tough game but I’m sure the girls will come back strong and learn from Saturday and perform a lot better with the bat,” Briggs said.

The Lightning-Vipers clash is part of a Twenty20 double-header at The 3aaa County Ground, with Derbyshire Falcons taking on Durham Jets in the NatWest T20 Blast at 6.30pm. Tickets are only £10 for both games.

NatWest T20 Blast is back. Save £4 by purchasing your matchday tickets in advance. While further discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Buy online today to secure your place and save.

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