Source: Julian Thompson

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy 2023 – match 21 – Storm vs Blaze

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Western Storm vs The Blaze at  Bristol (The Seat Unique stadium) on 2 July 2023 (10h30)

With both sides depleted by England Ashes call-up, acting skipper Marie Kelly stepped-up by scoring ‘fifty;’ staged a ‘run-out;’ and clean-bowled Storm skipper Luff’. Marie Kelly also took a vital ‘death over’ catch. Tight field-settings took the match down to wire, Blaze winning by 6 runs, for their sixth-win-in-a-row at 50 overs. Commentators: Charlie Taylor (for BBC radio Somerset) with Dr Jane Powell (President Yorks CCC) and Kath Wilkins (former player, Somerset Women.) Before the match, commentators pointed out that ‘3 quality players’ were missing from each side: and that might ‘balance things out.’ Match video via ECB online (NV-Play); BBC Sound (radio Somerset) and ‘YouTube’ (Livestream & highlights) courtesy of Glos cricket (for Western Storm) –  please see below. Weather at Bristol was sunny turning overcast, with an intermittent light westerly breeze 18C.

Blaze Innings *Acting skipper Marie Kelly [Storm keeper Natasha Wraith] with Internationals Nadine deKlerk & debutante Michaela Kirk (both Republic of South Africa); Kathryn & Sarah Bryce (both Scotland); without Tammy Beaumont, Natalie Sciver-Brunt, Sarah Glenn & Kirstie Gordon (All England Ashes duty.) *Just as Blaze were ‘looking to build a platform,’ opener Sarah Bryce 11(15) sliced to Fran Wilson (gaffed as Sophie Luff) and was caught ‘in the covers,’ bowled by Mollie Robbins. *With host commentors ‘calling for another wicket,’ Georgie Boyce 13(17) was obligingly caught at ‘silly-mid-off’ by Sophia Smale, from new recruit Piepa Cleary’s seam-bowling. *After 10 overs Power-play, Blaze 47/2. *Now facing ‘spin from each direction,’ Kathryn Bryce 20(24) ‘feather-edged’ a catch to keeper, from bowler Chloe Skelton (1/56.) *Blaze were 81/2 after 16.4 overs (100 balls); reaching 123/3 by mid-way (25 overs.) *’Big moment’ after Blaze lost 3 wickets over 6 overs, (when 130/3 became 149/6.) *Acting skipper Marie Kelly 54(74) top-edged skyward, caught by Mollie Robbins diving-forward ‘short of fine-leg,’ from Nicole Harvey’s ‘full toss’ (‘bump-ball’ ruled-out.) *Nadine de Klerk 1(7) played ‘forward-defensive,’ but lost her off-stump to Nicole Harvey, who ‘got one to turn.’ *Gaffed as ‘very important’ (batter), Michaela Kirk 40(49) promptly went ‘leg before’ to Nicole Harvey. *Michaela Kirk missing a sweeping ’square-cut:’ said to mark ‘a major moment’ of the game. *Teresa Graves & Sophie Munro scampered eight overs of ‘1’s & ‘2’s’ with no ‘fours.’ *Teresa Graves 41(50) sliced an ‘easy’ catch to Fran Wilson collecting ‘in-the-covers,’ bowled by Piepa Cleary. *Sophie Munro 41(50) launched a vertical ‘steepler,’ caught by Niamh Holland at ‘mid-on,’ also from bowler Piepa Cleary (3/43.) *Alex Griffiths’ (2/25) ‘death’ over bagged 2 wickets. *Ella Claridge 2(3) was caught at ‘extra cover’ by Piepa Cleary; *Finally, Lucy Higham 7(8) ramped into her wicket with great panache, leaving Grace Ballinger 2*‘not out’(3) *Blaze ‘all-out,’ with one ball remaining. *Storm’s Nicole Harvey was stand-out bowler (bagging Kelly, deKlerk & Kirk); with new recruit Piepa Clearly keeping Storm in contention (bagging Boyce, Graves & Munro.) *Relatively few ‘fours’ were scored beyond Blaze’s 20th over. *Sophie Munro and Teresa Graves’ 7th wicket partnership added 74: ‘spirited resistance’ that lifted Blaze’s total to 245. In summary, Blaze’s aspirations for six-wins-in-a-row were dented when Nicole Harvey took 3 ‘big name’ wickets, sending both South African Internationals back to the ‘dug-out.’ *Piepa Cleary (WBBL) also took three Blaze wickets.

Storm’s Innings *Skipper Sophie Luff *[Blaze keeper Sarah Bryce] *International player & same-day debutante Piepa Cleary (W.Australian Womens’ Big Bash League) said to have ‘just signed today.’ *Without Lauren Filer, Dani Gibson & England skipper Heather Knight (Ashes duty.) Orla Prendergast returned to ROI. *Amusing moment between overs when Nadine deKlerk lobbed the ball into Umpire’s hat (32/0.) *After 10 overs Power-play, Storm were trailing 34/0 (vs 47/2) but with 2 wickets advantage: 63/0 (vs 81/2) after 16.4 overs (100 balls.) *Emma Corney 29(40) was ‘run out’ at the non-striker’s end when bowler Marie Kelly deflected a dropped return-catch from Alex Griffiths onto non-striker’s stumps. *Sophie Luff*8(19) was clean-bowled, hitting across the line of a dead-straight ball from Marie Kelly. *By mid-way (25 overs) Storm were 99/2 (vs 123/3.) *Griffiths & Wilson 3rd wicket partnership added 59 runs.*Fran Wilson plundered 18 runs from Marie Kelly; and Alex Griffiths plundered 10 runs from Lucy Higham. *Top-scorer Alex Griffiths 67(118) sliced a catch to Michaela Kirk at mid-wicket, bowled by Teresa Graves *Niamh Holland 8(9) sacrificed herself (for Fran Wilson) as ‘run out,’ when keeper Sarah Bryce raced the ball to the non-striker’s end, leaving both batters stranded. *Fran Wilson 43(36) top-edged, caught one-handed by keeper Sarah Bryce, bowled by Sophie Munro *Natasha Wraith and Sophia Smale scampered 7 overs scoring ‘1’s & ‘2’s.’ *No ‘fours’ were scored by batters (excluding ‘extras’) during the final 8 overs. *During the 46th over, Natasha Wraith 20(31) sliced to Ella Claridge at ‘mid-on,’ bowled by Teresa Graves. *Finally during Nadine deKlerk’s ‘death’ over, Sophia Smale 24(30) aerial shot was caught at ‘extra cover’ by Marie Kelly. *Piepa Cleary closed 14*not out (16) when Storm’s 50 overs quota expired, (handing Blaze their win.)

Summary Marie Kelly top-scored with an acting-skipper’s ‘fifty.’ Storm’s Nicole Harvey was stand-out bowler with new recruit Piepa Clearly keeping Storm in contention also taking a 3-fer. As mentioned above, relatively few ‘fours’ were scored after Blaze’s 20th over, it would be misleading to say (as reported elsewhere) there was a ’sudden’ middle-order collapse when 3 wickets fell for 19 runs. Thereafter, Blaze’s 7th wicket recovery added 74 to what became a winning score. Between innings, weather became cloudy, with attention focused upon the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, in case of rain. Turning to Storm, opener Alex Griffiths made ‘fifty,’ with two key partnerships (Emma Corney & Fran Wilson.) As mentioned above, acting skipper Marie Kelly stepped-up by scoring ‘fifty;’ staged a ‘run-out;’ and clean-bowled her opposite number, Storm skipper Luff.’ For an encore, Marie Kelly took a vital ‘death over’ catch. Tight field-settings took the match down to wire. Storm batters were unable to find fielder’s gaps needed to secure a wafer-thin win. Unbeaten Blaze remain top-of-table in their first season, bagging their sixth win-in-a-row.

Result: The Blaze Women 245/10 beat Western Storm Women 239/7 (target 246); by 6 runs

*Blaze batting: 245/10 (@4.9 runs-per-over from 49.5 overs/50 overs); Marie Kelly 54(74), Sophie Munro 41(50), Teresa Graves 41(50), Michaela Kirk 40(49), Kathryn Bryce 20(24), Georgie Boyce 13(17), Sarah Bryce 11(15);  Storm bowling: Nicole Harvey 3/32, Piepa Cleary 3/43, Alex Griffiths 2/25, Michaela Robbins 1/42, Chloe Skelton 1/56; Fow 1-17, 2-42, 3-88, 4-130, 5-140, 6-149, 7-223, 8-226, 9-238, 10-245.

*Storm batting: 239/7 (@4.7 runs-per-over from 50/50 overs – target 246 from 50 overs); Alex Griffiths 67(118), Fran Wilson 43(36), Emma Corney 29(40), Sophia Smale 24(30), Natasha Wraith 20(31), Piepa Cleary 14*not out (16); Blaze bowling: Teresa Graves 2/28, Nadine de Klerk 1/29, Marie Kelly 1/38, Sophie Munro 1/39; Fow 1-69, 2-91, 3-150, 4-160, 5-176, 6-212, 7-236.

*Scorecard & statistics courtesy of ECB (via NV Play) at URL & BBC Sport (radio Somerset) @URL:

*Match free-to-air (from 08h22/06h55m15s) courtesy of Gloscricket for Western Storm on YouTube at URL: