Western Storm can make home comforts count in their favour when they go up against Loughborough Lightning in the Kia Super League this weekend.
So contends new head coach Trevor Griffin, the man charged with the task of helping last season’s runners-up go one better this time around.
In need of a victory to give their campaign lift-off in the wake of a nine-wicket opening-day defeat at the hands of defending champions Southern Vipers, the Storm make their long-awaited homecoming when they return to the County Ground at Taunton tomorrow to contest the first part of a double header that also sees Somerset take on Kent in the group stages of the NatWest T20 Blast.
And Griffin believes a full-house crowd can inspire his players to stay one step ahead of Lightning, who pushed them all the way in the race to appear at finals day 12 months ago.
He said: “We love playing at Taunton, a venue that has been really kind to us in the past. We won both games we played there last summer and the players just love performing there.
“Because it’s a double header, with Somerset playing after our game has finished, there will be a big crowd and a great atmosphere inside the ground. Hopefully, that will lift the players and inspire them to give of their best.
“The facilities are top-notch at Taunton and they always prepare good wickets for us. The crowd are very supportive is of us and, after beating Southern Vipers there last season, we feel confident playing at home. It will be the same when we play at Bristol later in the month.”
Griffin believes the Storm in their present incarnation are a better-balanced side than the one that lost the final by seven wickets at Chelmsford a year ago.
He explained: “I think we were a bit batter-heavy last season and we’ve addressed that with some of the signings we’ve made over the winter. We’ve brought in Holly Huddlestone and she is an international-class pace bowler.
“Holly can take the new ball, perform effectively in the middle overs and even bowl at the death. Her presence means we have greater flexibility and more options than previously.”
Having recruited New Zealander Huddlestone, Storm bolstered their squad further by landing domestic target Lisa McLeod from Southern Vipers, snapping up Lauren Parfitt and Claire Nicholas from Wales and promoting Gloucestershire’s emerging teenage all-rounder Dani Gibson from within.
“We have more options with the ball this year and are better-able to adapt to changing situations in a game as they arise,” argues Griffin. The new girls have settled in well and we have a really close-knit unit.”
Scheduled to go up against Loughborough at midday, Storm captain Heather Knight will be keeping her fingers crossed that any wet weather steers clear of south Somerset.
“With Somerset scheduled to play at 4pm, we know we will lose overs immediately if there is any rain,” revealed Griffin. “Time is something we have discussed throughout this week and we’ve had to get our heads together and plan for all the various scenarios. Hopefully, it will stay dry and we will have an opportunity to put on a good performance in front of a big crowd and the TV cameras.”
England bowler Anya Shrubsole is still recovering from a side strain and is unlikely to feature for Storm.
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