Kia Super League finals day at Hove: Vipers happy whoever they meet

Charlotte Edwards
Charlotte Edwards

Captain Charlotte Edwards is backing the Southern Vipers to defend their Kia Super League title – whoever they end up playing.

And she says anyone who thinks it’s preferable to have two games at Finals Day is “mad!”

The 37-year-old former England skipper will lead Vipers against the winner of the semi-final between Western Storm and Surrey Stars at Hove on Friday.

Vipers finished top and qualified automatically for the final after overtaking Surrey on the last day of group action when they beat Yorkshire Diamonds whilst the Stars were suffering a shock defeat to Loughborough Lightning.

And while Edwards admits she was surprised that Stars slipped up, she is delighted that it means Vipers have just one game to focus on.

“Any team who would rather play a semi-final first are mad!” she laughed. “We have one game to play and can properly prepare for that. We don’t really mind who it’s against, although we know it will be tough whether it’s Surrey or the Storm.

“We’ve got experience of Finals Day from last year which will also help us. It’s normally a good wicket at Hove and we’re looking forward to defending our title.

“We were probably thinking we might have to play in the semi-final before last Saturday. Surrey losing was a surprise but it shows the quality of the tournament that results like that can happen. But we are ready and the bonus is that the girls have all had time in the middle now as well.”

While Vipers have not surprisingly relied on their overseas trio of Suzie Bates, Hayley Matthews and Mignon du Preez in the tournament to date, Edwards has been pleased with the improvement of the English players and not just those who were part of the 50 overs World Cup triumph.

“I think the girls have been outstanding,” she said. “They learn from the likes of Suzie and you can see them putting things into practice in their own game and the way they prepare. At the start of the tournament not many of the girls got time in the middle because Suzie, in particular, was doing so well. That can happen in T20 but they have had game time now and a lot of us then played for our counties on Sunday and Monday as well.”

Vipers will have left-armer Linsey Smith available after she had to pull out of Saturday’s game against Yorkshire 30 minutes before the start when she suffered an asthma attack.

And if they are looking for a good omen, last year they lost to Storm in the group stages before beating them in the finals. Their only defeat in 2017 has come against Stars.