Southern Vipers v Central Sparks at the County Ground Northampton (Wantage Road) at 16h00 on 11 June
Collecting the ECB Charlotte Edwards Cup – their third regional trophy in three seasons, Vipers’ skipper, Georgia Adams told commentators: ‘We want to win trophies!’ Adams added that included defending Vipers’ Rachael Heyhoe Flint trophy. Before knowing Vipers had qualified for the final, Adams had told reporters that she was playing ‘ten times more cricket’ and her team had ‘stepped-up their performance. Meanwhile, team-mate Georgia Elwiss had said it was ‘no secret’ that the Charlotte Edwards’ trophy (in the Vipers’ Head Coach’s name), was a trophy that Vipers ‘really wanted to win.’ Previously, SKY TV’s Charles Dagnall humorously questioned whether Charlotte Edwards (pictured) as Vipers’ Head Coach, should ‘win her own cup?’
Setting the scene, Commentators (Adam Collins and Georgie Higgs) said that Vipers remained undefeated and was the first time this season that the two finalists had met. Also it was the first time that either team had an opportunity to win the trophy, exhibited on a pedestal (please see coverage below.) Collins reminded viewers that Sparks beat Stars in the qualifying match. Video coverage came from Vipers. Also broadcast live stream by social media (including ESPN-cric-info.) Vipers included former England players Anya Shrubsole and Georgia Elwiss for Tara Norris and Nancy Harman. Sparks were unchanged. Weather had improved, the stiff cross-wind affecting the earlier match had given way to a light breeze, high clouds and sunny spells; on a mild summer’s day.
*Batting first, Sparks’ batters were lucky not to clip Lauren Bell, bowling her first over (48-50mph). *During the second over Vipers’ claimed their first wicket when skipper Eve Jones (6) lost her near-side bale to Charlie Dean’s off-spin.*Teenager Freya Kemp struck two overs later when Issy Wong (2) was caught overhead by Maia Bouchier leaping high from the edge of the circle at ‘mid-on’. *Amy Jones was dropped by skipper Adams at ‘mid-off’, unable to evade Anya Shrubsole’s famous glare. *Together, Jones and Abi Freeborn added 29 runs. *After six overs power play, Sparks were slightly below-par on 36/2. *Crucially, Charlie Dean took her second wicket when Amy Jones (27) lofted to Maia Bouchier who took a tumbling catch arriving at ‘mid-on’ from ‘long-on.’ *Collins seemed certain that Jones ‘didn’t get to pitch of the ball’ (45/3.) *Just before mid-way (10 overs, 51/3) Abi Freeborn (18) was stumped by keeper Carla Rudd, Freeborn momentarily straying off-side to bag Georgia Elwiss a wicket. *As a medium-pace bowler (50-52mph) Elwiss was said by Collins to be ‘consistent’ and ‘hard to get away.’
*Disaster struck Sparks six balls later, when Ami Campbell (7) fell for a theatrical mis-field by Danni Wyatt and was ‘run out.’ *At that point, Collins said the game ‘was slipping away from Sparks,’ at 61/5 – later referred to as ‘a wobble.’ *A second key partnership was staged between Sarah Glenn and Gwen Davies, adding 26 runs in four overs. *At the 100 ball benchmark (16.4 overs), Sparks had recovered slightly to 84/5. *Skipper Adams struck twice during her last over, firstly catching Glenn (16) – high overhead using both hands. *Secondly, Adams made a diving-stop, not only saving ‘one,’ but also running-out Emily Arlott (6.) *During the last ‘death’ over, Davies fell ‘leg before’ to Elwiss. *Collins humorously described Davies as ’30% of the way down to missing a low sweep.’ *Davina Perrin hit the final ball through ‘extra cover’ for ‘four,’ as Sparks closed on a barely defendable 109/8. *Commentators said Sparks had ‘hard work’ getting back into the game and commended Vipers for ‘a solid bowling performance.’
Vipers reply. *As Sparks’ fastest bowler, Issy Wong (68-70mph) was said by Collins to have ‘made light work’ after Eve Jones dived forward between ‘cover’ and ‘mid-off’ to dismiss opposing skipper Georgia Adams for a sixth ball ‘duck.’ *Reliable for a faster-than-average strike rate, Danni Wyatt (20) had one lucky escape when dropped at ‘mid-wicket.’ *Wyatt was caught by Grace Potts moving to her left, from Emily Arlott’s first over (66mph); Vipers on 35/2. *After Vipers’ six overs of power play, Maia Bouchier and Georgia Elwiss nudged Vipers ahead on 50/2 (vs.36/2.) *At that point, Collins said that runs were ‘almost irrelevant.’ *Commentators’ curse struck when two balls later, Elwiss (3) was trapped ‘leg before’ during Sarah Glenn’s first over. *A whisker before half-way during the tenth over, Maia Bouchier 32(25) was bowled middle-stump by Emily Arlott. *By mid-way, Vipers were appreciably ahead 72/4(vs. 51/3) needing to score at a pedestrian rate of 38 runs from 60 balls. *During the closing stage, commentators said that Vipers’ lower-order batters ‘had not much to do.’ *Sparks last serious challenge came from Issy Wong’s final over, after ten-overs rest. *Following two ‘dot’ balls from Wong, Ella McCaughan 30*(30) shot the winning square cut for ‘four,’ bagging victory for Vipers; with an unbeaten 45-run partnership with Dean.
In summary, Vipers’ Charlie Dean (2/19) dismissed Sparks’ top scorer Amy Jones 27 runs (from 23 balls) from what commentators described as a ‘brilliant’ catch – one of two catches taken by England candidate Maia Bouchier. Commentator Collins beefed-up Sparks’ best bowler Emily Arlott (2/28) “as the only bowler ever to have scored a ‘hat trick’ against Vipers”. Sparks’ most fruitful batting partnerships were firstly between Amy Jones and Abi Freeborn (29.) Between partnerships Collins detected “a big wobble” in the middle of Sparks innings. A second significant partnership between Gwenan Davies and bowler-turned-batter Sarah Glenn banked another 26 runs. Vipers’ skipper Adams took two tailenders’ wickets during Sparks eighteenth over. Set a relatively low target by Sparks, Collins said that Vipers’ runs were “almost irrelevant” as their reply reached the ‘fifty’ mark after six overs’ power play. By mid-way, Vipers were appreciably ahead 72/4(vs.51/3) needing to score 38 runs from 60 balls. Ending their run-chase without further loss, Vipers won comfortably by six wickets.
Following the match, players received medals from England women’s Head Coach, Lisa Keightley. Vipers’ Charlie Dean (2/19) was voted Player-of-the-match; and Sparks’ Amy Jones was voted ‘Player-of-the-series.’ Receiving ECB’s Charlotte Edwards Cup for the first time, Georgia Adams told Collins that her team were all set to win their third Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy. RHF fixtures begin on 2 July, listed at URL <http://4theloveofsport.co.uk/2022/04/30/rachael-heyhoe-flint-trophy-fixtures-2022/>
Result: Southern Vipers Women 110/4 (15.5/20 overs) beat Central Sparks Women 109/8 (20 overs) by 6 wickets and 25 balls remaining
Sparks: 109/8 (20 overs, 5.45 runs-per-over): Amy Jones27(23), Abi Freeborn18(23); Sarah Glenn16(13), Davina Perrin14*(10), Gwenan Davies12(17); Vipers bowling: Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Dean 2/19, Freya Kemp 1/13, Georgia Adams 1/16, Georgia Elwiss 1/22; Fow 1-7, 2-16, 3-45, 4-59, 5-61, 6-87, 7-93, 8-105;
Vipers 110/4 (15.5/20 overs, 6.94 runs-per-over): Maia Bouchier32(25), Ella McCaughan30*(30), Danni Wyatt20(10), Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Dean7*(17); Sparks bowling: Emily Arlott 2/28, Sarah Glenn 1/20, Issy Wong 1/24; Fow 1-2, 2-35, 3-51, 4-65.
Entire match, is free-to-view courtesy of Southern Vipers with post-match presentations via Youtube and Smart TV (3h15m45 starting from 9m47) at URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ-VjerNxKI
Video clips with POTM Charlie Dean interview, courtesy of Vipers at the Ageas Bowl at URL https://www.ageasbowl.com/cricket/news/report-and-reaction-southern-vipers-v-central-sparks,-charlotte-edwards-cup-final/