Thunder coach Shaw says reaching semi-finals can spur on next generation
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Thunder won four of their last five group games to seal a top-three berth in the group stage, winning through to New Road at the weekend, where they were beaten by eventual champions Southern Vipers in the semi-final Eliminator tie.
It wasn’t the fairytale ending the region were hoping for. However, there is a much bigger picture that former England head coach Shaw is well aware of.
“I think it’s crucial,” he said. “There’s now a pathway in the women’s game, a career pathway.
“If we can inspire the next generation by everything that’s happened – wins like Wednesday against the Diamonds (at Blackpool), four wins out of five, getting to a Finals Day – young girls watching all of a sudden see that they want to be the next Fi Morris, the next Naomi Dattani, the next Kate Cross.
“It’s fantastic for them, and they start believing that if they put in the work, anything is possible.”
In Saturday’s team which lost narrowly to the Vipers in a high-scoring Eliminator, Thunder fielded six homegrown players; Olivia Bell, Danielle Collins, England star Sophie Ecclestone, Liberty Heap, Preston’s Emma Lamb and captain Ellie Threlkeld.
Three players – Bell, Heap and UAE international Mahika Gaur – have all come through the Thunder Academy.
And there were others in and around the squad who weren’t available or didn’t make the final eleven. England seamer Kate Cross, Seren Smale and Sophie Morris are obvious examples.
Skipper Threlkeld said: “You look now, and young girls have a real opportunity to make a career in cricket. That’s massive.
“Hopefully we can be good role models for those and inspire the next generation.
“Hopefully we are inspiring a new set of players and fans, and they can see the skill on show.”
Thunder are next in action on July 2, when they resume their 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy campaign at New Road against Central Sparks.