England star Tammy Beaumont admits she is facing a “baptism of fire” after swapping the Surrey Stars for the Southern Vipers in the third season of the Kia Super League.
The fixture compilers may have been looking to local rivalry rather than Beaumont’s move, but an opening match between the Vipers and the Stars in Guildford on Sunday 22 July means an immediate reunion with some old team-mates for the 26-year-old World Cup winner.
Beaumont is due to make her home debut for the Vipers three days later against Loughborough Lightning at the Ageas Bowl, and there will be a rematch against the Stars at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove in August – a venue that all KSL players will have in mind as it will again stage Finals Day on Bank Holiday Monday, August 27.
"Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway have retired in recent years, so they needed a batter down there to complete their allocation of England players."
The Vipers will be aiming to regain the title they won on KSL’s first Finals Day in Chelmsford in 2016, having been beaten by Heather Knight’s Western Storm in the Final at Hove last summer – but they will have to do so without Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway, who have both retired.
"I’d like to thank the Stars for a great two years and wish them all the best, but I’m really excited to join the Vipers,” Beaumont said in Loughborough this week, as she joined the rest of the England squad in their preparations for the forthcoming tour of India.
“Obviously I loved my time at Surrey Stars, but the ECB allocate its England players still and they’ve decided to move me to the Southern Vipers. Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway have retired in recent years, so they needed a batter down there to complete their allocation of England players.”
Beaumont is especially excited about linking up with Suzie Bates, the formidable New Zealander who was an Adelaide Strikers team-mate in the Women’s Big Bash League this winter.
But she admits there is one superficial problem with her move to the Vipers. "I hate the colour orange,” she said. “That’s something I’m going to have to deal with!”
She will have plenty of time, as a result of the expansion of the KSL in its third season, with the six teams playing each other home and away in the group phase – meaning 10 matches, rather than five as previously.
“I think it’s going to be really good,” she added. “You saw in both versions of the Super League so far that the teams that start well tend to get to Finals Day. This year you can actually build some momentum – and if you’ve got home and away fixtures, it takes a little bit of that home advantage out.
“It does mean a lot more travelling up and down the country – for us playing at the Ageas Bowl one day, two days later playing in Headingley and then back down to the Ageas Bowl. Probably that will be more familiar to more experienced players, but it’s going to be another challenge for some of the younger girls.”
Alex Hartley is another high-profile player on the move this season, although in her case leaving the Stars for Lancashire Thunder represents a homecoming.
The 24-year-old is from Blackburn, and her relationship with Lancashire and England Lions wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Davies is an added bonus of the move north.
"To go back home and represent the Red Rose is just so exciting."
“To go back home and represent the Red Rose is just so exciting,” said the left-arm spinner, who is also preparing to head for India.
“Surrey was amazing and I loved playing for Surrey, but it was just so far away from where I live at the minute.”
And as Hartley says of the team both she and Beaumont are leaving behind: “They’ve gained Sarah Taylor so I’m pretty sure they’ll be alright!"