Southern Vipers 143 for 3 (Bates 52) beat Western Storm 140 for 5 (Priest 57) by seven wickets
Too old, too slow. It was how Charlotte Edwards' summer started back in May when moved on from the England captaincy. Still making runs, but not part of the future. Holding aloft the inaugural Kia Super League trophy in the late afternoon Chelmsford sun, her Southern Vipers reminded everyone that this adage has a third part to it as well: too good.
Chasing down Western Storm's 140 for 5 with seven wickets and seven balls to spare, it was a triumph of big game experience on the big game stage. New Zealand captain Suzie Bates batted with authority to top score in the chase, tallying 52 in 46 balls after putting on 78 with Edwards at the top.
Then when the game was there to be won with five overs to go and still work to do, it was Lydia Greenway - retired from England with Edwards - who took control alongside Sara McGlashan - the 34-year-old New Zealander - their unbeaten stand of 39 seeing the win home.
Arran Brindle, another (in her case, long) retired England veteran wasn't required to bat at No. 6 but was Vipers' crucial owler instead; claiming 2 for 15 in a boundary-less middle-overs spell that stalled Western Storm's innings that shot to 71 without loss by half way.
Let's pick up the story there. Brindle came into the attack with her medium pace after eight overs with Stafanie Taylor and Rachel Priest building an imposing stand. As Edwards said later, she was told by Brindle, her former England team-mate that she'd be taking the next over. She wanted to own the situation, and did precisely that.
Her second over was successful in provoking Taylor into going over the top, miscuing to Edwards at mid-off, gone for 35. Vipers bowled first at the toss expressly on the basis that they didn't want Taylor to bat second, having shown repeated skill in this tournament for timing her chases to perfection. With her removed (finishing with 289 runs for the tournament at 57.80, more than any other), the bowling side were immediately back in the contest.
When Heather Knight was nicely held at deep-backward square leg by Katie George, then Priest was also taken in the deep for 57, Edwards' side had got themselves out of jail. Fran Wilson's unbeaten 16 was resourceful, and 14 were taken from the final over to push the score to an even seven-an-over, but on an excellent surface it appeared light.
Enter Edwards and Bates. The two are close, playing county cricket this year for Kent and sharing a changing room for Perth Scorchers during the Women's Big Bash League last summer in Australia. Both said after the game that they knew the deal in a situation like this: get the board ticking over early and put the pressure straight back onto the fielding team.
As important as the 43 runs they scored in the six-over Powerplay were the strokes that defined these opening exchanges. They cut hard and drove straight; both along the air and over the rope in the case of the captain. They called loud and ran hard. They were the hunters, not the hunted.
In the best traditions of T20 Finals, Storm fought back to create what very nearly became a grandstand finish after Edwards was bowled when misjudging a reverse sweep off Jodie Dibble. Two overs later, Bates was dismissed too after Wilson combined with Priest to run her out against the trend of play. When Georgia Adams also ran herself out the equation was 36 required in 30 balls.
It was a situation perfect for McGlashan, who developed a habit of chasing down totals during the WBBL for Sydney Sixers. She immediately reduced the task to an even 28 from 28 after carving Georgia Hennessy past point and then behind square leg in consecutive deliveries.
When Greenway connected with one of her trademark reverse sweeps the next over, it all of a sudden came down to whether Anya Shrubsole could remove one or both of the now-set batsmen in the 18th over with 20 runs to play with. Instead, she shed 14 from it, Greenway successfully picking her over midwicket before the England opener sprayed an untimely five wides down the legside.
When Greenway saw a half volley on the penultimate delivery of the penultimate over she didn't miss out, driving Freya Davies to the boundary and Vipers to victory.
The victorious charge to the middle may have been a little slower than for some of the youthful opponents they had seen off through the tournament, but it was no less enthusiastic. Nor was the response by administrators, who despite the modest showing of 1353 patrons on Finals Day praised the tournament as comfortably exceeding expectations in season one.
"I think our experience really counted in the end," Edwards said. "It's been a special few months and you hope to get to finals day and put in a performance like that."
"It has been an emotional tournament," she added. "I had to deal with quite a lot this summer and the team wanted to kind of win it for us… I have really sensed the team behind me."
Next summer the Super League will expand to also encompass the 50-over game, to be played in the lead up to the Women's World Cup scheduled for June and July. As for Edwards, her international career may be over, she promises one thing for Vipers fans: she'll be back.