TAUNTON’S very own Sophie Luff was delighted to score the winning runs as Western Storm defeated Loughborough Lightning at the Cooper Associates County Ground on Saturday.

After a nine-wicket loss to Kia Super League champions Southern Vipers last Thursday, Storm bounced back to claim a five-wicket win in Taunton.

West Indian star Stafanie Taylor took 4-5 in four overs to derail the visitors’ innings, before Somerset Women’s captain Luff (18no) got her side over the line at 109-5 with five balls to spare, Taylor ending on 34 not out.

Lightning began well, with Amy Jones and Ellyse Perry taking the fight to the Storm bowlers, before 26-year-old Taylor intervened in a spell that was as spectacular as it was miserly.

Storm’s innings did not start well, though, as Rachel Priest fell for a duck.

But England captain Heather Knight and Georgia Hennessy rebuilt the innings, and Taylor hit several fine boundaries to continue their good work.

Storm still needed 32 from 4.3 overs when Luff walked to the wicket, but she produced an excellent cameo on her home ground – hitting three crucial boundaries – to guide her team across the finish line.

She said: “It’s great to play in Taunton – as a Somerset girl, I love it.

“We’re very lucky to play there, and we’re well looked after.

“To hit the winning runs was very special.”

Her hometown performance was watched by her family – with Lympsham & Belvedere CC losing the services of Dave and Jack Luff for the day as a result (they still won!).

“I love having them come to watch, and they were very proud on Saturday,” the Storm star said.

“They had to give up their own cricket, but I don’t know if they’ll be able to watch in Bristol [Storm’s match against Lancashire Thunder, on August 26].

“Lympsham are in the promotion hunt, so they need to win!”

Storm’s victory was all the more important, having come on the back of their defeat to the Vipers.

Luff said: “Thursday did not go as we’d hoped, but we turned things around.

“In the field we were exceptional, and Stafanie Taylor was just a different class.

“We now need to raise the bar again to play Yorkshire.”

That next match, played today (2.30pm start) in York, is the first of three games in seven days for Storm as they look to replicate last season’s achievement of making the final – and this time hopefully winning it.

They take on Surrey at the Kia Oval on Wednesday (August 23, 2pm), ahead of next Saturday’s match in Bristol (2.30pm).

Somerset County Gazette:

NEXT UP: Western Storm face Yorkshire today. Pic: Mike Powell

Luff said: “Our preparations [for the Yorkshire game] have been really good.

“We’ve had two training sessions [on Tuesday and Wednesday], then a day off [Thursday] and then more training on Friday, before travelling up to Yorkshire on Saturday.

“It’s been nice to have this time to prepare, because the games come thick and fast next week.”

Regardless of the outcome of those matches, Luff has gained a lot from being around such players as Taylor, New Zealanders Holly Huddleston and Rachel Priest, and England’s World Cup winners Heather Knight, Anya Shrubsole and Fran Wilson.

“It’s great to be around those players, as you pick up lots of small things to improve your own game,” Luff added.

Still only 23 and having already captained her county, she is certainly one to watch, in this tournament and beyond.