Western Storm getting ready to roll in defence of Kia Super League title
It's all systems go for the women cricketers of Western Storm as they prepare to defend their national Kia Super League title, writes a Special Correspondent.
Head coach Trevor Griffin is looking forward to the new campaign with confidence and is delighted with this year's squad which includes six full internationals - three from England and three from overseas.
Said Griffin, a long-time member of the Devon Cricket Board coaching team: “We’ve a hugely exciting squad this year with some fantastic new additions as well as the welcome return of others. Our first job is to play positive, competitive cricket and make finals day – we can’t defend our title if we’re not there so that’s fundamental.”
Revenge was sweet for the team when they beat Southern Vipers in the final last year - the Vipers had beaten them in the final the year before.
Western Storm have three England stars in the squad - captain and Devon's own Heather Knight, who lifted the World Cup last year, vice captain Anya Shrubsole, the first woman to appear on the front cover of the iconic Wisden Cricketer's Amanack. - she was also a nominee for the BBC Sports Personality of the year - and World Cup winner Fran Wilson, both Fran and Anya originating from Somerset.
The Western Storm overseas contingent comprises New Zealand’s Rachel Priest, West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor who both return for their third year plus new recruit, Smriti Mandhana, who will be the first Indian player to take part in the Kia Super League.
Anya took time out from a training session to talk about the past few months. She said: “It has been all bit of a whirlwind at times but really nice. I pride myself on being a mature person and staying down to earth.”
On Western Storm and England's chances of glory this year? She said: “We will be going into the Super League and Twenty20 World Cup thinking we have a chance of winning both tournaments. But Twenty20 cricket is so unpredictable, you have to be on top of your game all the time.”
Leading the squad on the field is England captain Knight, who said “I’m really pleased to be a part of Western Storm again in 2018.
“We’ve created something really special over the last two years and I know that everyone involved will be giving absolutely everything in order to retain our title.
“A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes as well as on the pitch and everyone connected to Western Storm played their part in last year’s success.
This year’s tournament will be bigger than ever and that will make it much tougher, but I believe that we’ve got the quality in the squad to be successful again.”
This year the competition has doubled in size with each team playing one another home and away in a 10-game campaign. The squad gets together for the first time on July 16 in preparation for their first clash against Yorkshire Diamonds at Somerset's Coopers Associate County Ground on July 22.
The Western Storm stars will also be in action when they play a Somerset team as part of Somerset and England legend Marcus Trescothick’s Testimonial year at South Devon Cricket Club at the Recreation Ground in Newton Abbot on July 17.
This is the third super league campaign for Head Coach Griffin, who was assistant coach in Western Storm’s first season, and appointed to head coach last year. He has been quick to praise Devon law firm and sponsors Wollen Michelmore for their support. Trevor said: “They came on board last year and have been superb in the way they have supported us. They are everything you would want a sponsor to be and we’re delighted to be working with them again, we can’t wait to get started & defend that title!”
Skipper Knight said: “Having Wollen Michelmore on board as our main sponsor is fantastic.”