Source: Julian Thompson

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy – match 4

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The Blaze vs Central Sparks at Nottingham (Trent Bridge) on 22 April 2023

Posting a defendable score (212) Blaze made a convincing inaugural win, thanks to an all-round performance by Lucy Higham whose off-breaks took 5/19; having earlier added 24 runs with her bat. England’s Tammy Beaumont MBE [60 runs (from 77 balls)] scored a ‘swift fifty.’ Other England players who’ve joined Blaze are Sarah Glenn (transferred from Sparks); and Nat Sciver-Brunt (from Diamonds.)

Commentators for the Midlands Derby lauded the ‘birth of (The) Blaze,’ whose players were transferred from Loughborough Lightning to a new East Midlands centre-of-excellence for Women’s cricket at Trent Bridge, during Nov ‘22. Commentators included Claire B Jenkins, Jamie Ramage (sports journalist) with guest Hannah Thompson-Radford (doctoral researcher at L’boro.) Weather at Trent Bridge was described as ‘rain-free.’ Also broadcast via ECB online (NV Play) – please see below

Blaze Innings *Skipper Kirstie Gordon with fellow Scots internationals: Kathryn and Sarah Bryce; and Rep. South Africa international Nadine deKlerk. *Bowler Emily Arlott made ‘instant impact,’ dismissing opener Marie Kelly for a second-ball duck, from Katie George’s diving catch at ‘square-leg.’

*After 10 overs Power-play Blaze were 63/1. *After hitting Issy Wong for 14 runs from a single ‘over,’ Georgie Boyce 28(38) went ‘leg before,’ to Grace Potts, deflecting to ‘leg-side.’ *Both Bryce siblings made carbon-copy departures: caught behind by Abi Freeborn, from Grace Potts for single-figures. *Tammy Beaumont’s first ‘fifty’ for Blaze came from 70 balls. *By mid-way, Blaze were 130/4. *Two balls later, with 10 ‘fours,’ Beaumont 60(77) went ‘leg before’ to Georgia Davis. *Nadine de Klerk 11(19) skied a ‘top-edge,’ that hung in the air until caught-and-bowled by Georgia Davis. *England’s Sarah Glenn 38(46) played anchor until castled by Hannah Baker. *Thereafter, the run-rate fell. *Beth Harmer 11(21) was skittled by Georgia Davis. *Skipper Gordon 7(26) snicked a catch to Abi Freeborn, from Emily Arlott 24(39) *Finally, Lucy Higham 24(39) lost her middle-stump to Emily Arlott; leaving Grace Ballinger 1*(not out) and 10 balls remaining. *Gifting 27 extras (including 20 wides) boosted Blaze’s inaugural total past 200.

Sparks Innings Skipper Eve Jones. Katie George transferred from Storm, and Chloe Brewer from Stars. *When Issy Wong 22(32) was caught at ‘cover’ by Lucy Higham from Sarah Glenn, commentators noted that Glenn had taken the historic first wicket for Blaze. *Newbie Chloe Brewer went ‘leg before’ to Kathryn Bryce for a third ball duck. *After 10 overs Power-play Sparks were 37/1 (vs 63/1) *Skipper Jones 29(63) was caught-and-bowled by Lucy Higham’s third ball. *By mid-way, Sparks at 76/3 (vs 130/4) were noticeably adrift by their slower run-rate. *Another five wickets fell as skipper Gordon and Lucy Higham peppered their opponents with ‘dot’ balls. *Having struck Lucy Higham for ‘four,’ Abi Freeborn 15(46) was out next ball, caught by Marie Kelly. *Returning two overs later, Lucy Higham caught-and-bowled Ami Campbell 15(26) first-ball. *Keeper Sarah Bryce stumped Emily Arlott (5) for Higham’s fourth wicket. *Davina Perrin (5) was caught by Georgie Boyce from skipper Gordon. *Lucy Higham’s 5-fer came when she clean-bowled Georgia Davis (1) for a rare ‘wicket-maiden.’ *All Rounder Katie George 43(43) ’stepped-up’ with entertaining rearguard action. Katie George made top-score for Sparks by launching 5 ‘fours,’ until caught-and-bowled by Nadine deKlerk. Finally, Hannah Baker was bowled by Nadine de Klerk to secure Blaze’s first win; with ten balls to spare.

Match summary Significantly, both sides lost all their wickets. Tammy Beaumont 60(77) made top-score, marking the difference between the two teams when considering the total runs scored. Commentators made subtle references early on, to bowlers’ lack of accuracy,’ inferring that Sparks bowlers ‘needed (to check) sat-navs’ to avoid bowling ‘wides.’ Despite gifting ‘extras,’ to their opponents, Grace Potts (3/46), Emily Arlott (3/41) and Georgia Davis (3/33) each took ‘3-fers.’ For Blaze as the winning team, undoubtedly continuous stump-to-stump bowling between skipper Gordon and Lucy Higham for twenty-overs controlled the game. For Sparks, bowler-turned-batter Katie George 43(43) ’stepped-up’ for rear-guard action with 5 ‘fours.’ Critically, commentators pointed to the lack of support from Sparks’ lower order. Remarkably, only one ’six’ was scored during the entire match (by Issy Wong.)

Result: The Blaze Women 212/10 beat Central Sparks Women 153/10 by 59 runs and with 10 balls remaining

Blaze batting: 212/10 (46.4/50overs 4.54 runs-per-over)

Tammy Beaumont 60(77), Sarah Glenn 38(46), Georgie Boyce 28(38), Lucy Higham 24(39), Nadine deKlerk 11(19), Beth Harmer 11(21);

Sparks bowling: Georgia Davis 3/33, Emily Arlott 3/41, Grace Potts 3/46, Hannah Baker 1/24.

Fow 1-7, 2-72, 3-77, 4-86, 5-131, 6-162, 7-166, 8-185, 9-201, 10-212.

Sparks batting: 153/10 (48.2/50overs 3.16 r-p-o, target 213 from 50 overs)

Katie George 31(37), Eve Jones 29(63), Issy Wong 22(32), Ami Campbell 15(26), Abi Freeborn 15(46), Grace Potts 12*(34);

Blaze bowling: Lucy Higham 5/19, Nadine deKlerk 2/39, Kathryn Bryce 1/14, Kirstie Gordon 1/25, Sarah Glenn 1/28.

Fow 1-37, 2-41, 3-64, 4-89, 5-90, 6-102, 7-104, 8-105, 9-145, 10-153.

Scorecard with Video-highlights, courtesy of ECB via NV-Play on YouTube at URL:

Match free-to-air (starting from 00h26m40s/07h21m35s) courtesy of NV Play for The Blaze on YouTube at URL:

The Blaze awarded 5 points, joint leaders. Latest English Cricket Board tables at URL: