NEW Milton’s Charlotte Taylor produced the performance of her life, taking six wickets to lead the Southern Vipers to the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title at Edgbaston
The former Arnewood School pupil’s performance, which is the best return from any bowler in the competition, ensured the Vipers defended 232 to beat Northern Diamonds by 38 runs to become the competition’s inaugural champions.
The Diamonds’ run chase got off to a decent start with them well-placed on 74 for 1 in the 15th over. However, off-spinner Taylor’s brilliant spell cut them down to 96 for 6 by the 23rd.
Taylor had opener Hollie Armitage caught for 26 runs before she took former England Academy player Alex MacDonald’s wicket, trapping Jenny Gunn LBW, and having Bess Heath caught.
Taylor also trapped Beth Langston LBW before she had Netherlands international Sterre Kalis caught for 55 to finish with a superb six wickets for 34 runs. The impressive haul means she ends with a competition-high 15 wickets from five appearances.
The Southern Vipers made it seven wins out of seven in a perfect season with the Diamonds bowled out for 193 with seven overs spare.
The 26-year-old’s remarkable performance may have taken many by surprise considering she did not make the initial squad but was drafted in after the competition began.
Taylor, who also claimed the player of the match award, said: “That’s the best I’ve ever bowled. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Obviously a few weeks ago I got drafted into the competition. I never expected to play, but I’m proving to myself week in and week out that I can play at this level.
“They got off to a good start, but we took wickets at key times, and I’m so happy I was able to contribute. Lots of people wouldn’t have seen me play too much cricket, and I think that works to my advantage, especially with my bowling.
“For us to win seven games out of seven with such a young side, it’s really impressive and bodes well for the future.”
After the match, Northern Diamonds skipper Lauren Winfield-Hill, said: “Credit to the girls for sticking in at the end. We did well to drag them back, but we did not bat well enough, and Charlotte Taylor bowled really well.”
Taylor first played at New Milton Cricket Club in the U9 boys team, later joining Hursley Park CC as a 14-year-old.
Charlotte’s dad, Steve, who also played for New Milton Cricket Club, said: “Because of Covid-19 we couldn’t attend the match, but the immediate family were all at home watching the final on TV. It was great to watch as the wickets came – we weren’t surprised at all because we know how good she is.
“She does the basics really well; she consistently puts the ball on the spot and makes the batsmen work every ball. Her success comes from that consistency.”
In 2017, Taylor’s rise was curtailed after tearing her cruciate ligament. After completing a rigorous rehab programme, she was recalled by Hursley Park before Vipers coach and former England captain Charlotte Edwards called her up.
Steve added: “It was great to watch her perform at such a high level. It really is testament to all the hard work she’s put in over the last three years.
“When I think about the time Charlotte lost with the injury, I couldn’t help but wonder about where and who she might be playing for. I knew she had the drive and determination, but I honestly wasn’t sure if she’d get back to this level. She deserves all the praise she’s getting.”