Rachel Priest is convinced Western Storm’s Kia Super League showdown with arch rivals Southern Vipers in Southampton on Thursday qualifies for “grudge match” status.
Beaten to the title by the Vipers 12 months ago, New Zealand international Priest and her Storm team-mates will be out for revenge when the Ageas Bowl hosts a re-match of last season’s final in front of the Sky Sports TV cameras.
Led and inspired by former England captain Charlotte Edwards, the Vipers won by seven wickets when last the sides met. But Priest, returning to the West Country for a second season with Storm, believes last year’s runners-up can turn the tables on this occasion.
She argued: “We have a very cohesive unit, with most of the girls who played last year, coming back for another go. I’m excited to play in the same team as England’s Heather Knight, Fran Wilson and Anya Shrubsole, while Stefanie Taylor is a genuine match-winner and helped us get over the line in quite a few games last summer.
“Just like in the Big Bash in Australia, the teams are all evenly matched in the Super League and we will definitely be looking to go one better this time.
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“We came up just short against Southern Vipers in the final last year and it’s exciting to be starting with a grudge match against them. We’re a god unit and we feel we can avenge last year’s defeat to them. That is certainly the aim, because we want to make a good start to the series.”
Having captained Melbourne Renegades in the Australian women’s Big Bash series last winter, Priest is looking forward to the challenge of raising standards in the northern hemisphere.
Sky Sports will screen six Kia Super League group games live this season, beginning with the clash between the Vipers and Storm at the Ageas Bowl, and Priest reckons the additional coverage represents a further opportunity to raise the profile of women’s cricket in this country following on from England’s dramatic World Cup triumph at Lord’s last month.
She said: “Big Bash was an unknown quantity when it was launched in Australia, but it did really well and took off in a good way. I believe the same can happen with the Super League this summer.
“It was a pretty good tournament last year and many of the world’s best players are over here to support it this time. On the back of a successful World Cup tournament, this is definitely a chance to grow the game.
“Because our opening game is part of a double header and Hampshire play (against Glamorgan) straight after us, there will be a big crowd inside the ground. Hopefully, that will lift our players and inspire them to put in a winning performance.
“Now that the competition is nearly here, I just want to get out in the middle and play cricket. I’m excited at what the next month holds and we’re looking to go all the way.”
Western Storm squad:
Knight, Wilson, Priest, Lee, Taylor, Luff, Davies, Huddlestone, Carr, Dibble, Shrubsole, Fairbairn, Hennessey, Mackenzie, O’Keefe, Westbury.
Western Storm face Lancashire Thunder on Saturday 26 August in what will be an action-packed day of cricket at the Brightside Ground, Bristol. Book tickets here.