Source: Julian Thompson

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy – match 42 – Sparks vs Blaze

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Central Sparks vs The Blaze – at Edgbaston Stadium at 10h30 on 5 September 2023

‘The Blaze’ have extended their top-of-table lead, with 2nd & 3rd placed teams both losing on the same day. Earlier, 2nd-placed ‘Sparks’ looked favourites to beat ‘The Blaze.’ When batting, Katie George & Bethan Ellis scored ‘fifties,’ staging ‘Sparks” 5th-wicket partnership: that added 83 runs. When bowling, spinners Georgia Davis & Hannah Baker precipitated a batting collapse, taking five ‘Blaze’ wickets for just 18 runs. Blaze fought back, England’s Natalie ‘Nat’ Sciver-Brunt taking centre-stage, scoring 66 runs ‘not out’ from 71 balls. ‘Heroic’ support from skipper Kirstie Gordon who endured an hour’s batting enabled Nat Sciver-Brunt to chase-down winning runs required with almost five overs to spare. Commentators were Mike Perkins (BBC Radio) & Clare B Jenkins (Central Sparks/The Blaze); with guest Raf Nicholson HerGameToo. Video highlights courtesy of ECB and NV Play (please see below) Weather at Edgbaston was ‘hot:’ above 15C.

‘Sparks’’ Innings *Skipper Eve Jones [*Lizelle Lee keeping wicket for Blaze] *Debutante international player Madeline ‘Maddy’ Green (NZ) replacing Erin Burns (Australia WBBL) *Without Issy Wong & Davina Perrin. *Left-hander Eve Jones was caught by Nat Sciver-Brunt from Kathryn Bryce coming around-the-wicket. *Finding Sophie Munro (1/22) unplayable, Abbey Freeborn 6(23) snicked a ‘thick edge’ to keeper Sarah Bryce. *After 10-overs power play ‘Sparks’ were 27/2 *Finding Grace Ballinger unplayable, Maddy Green was caught by Kirstie Gordon for an 11th ball ‘duck.’ *Ami Campbell 11(10) was caught at ‘mid-wicket’ by Tammy Beaumont, from Lucy Higham *By mid-way (25 overs) ’Sparks’ were 102/4. Katie George & Bethan Ellis 5th wicket partnership added 83 runs *Bethan Ellis 53(97) went ‘leg-before’ to Kirstie Gordon. *Next over Katie George 50(57) went ‘leg-before’ to Josie Groves *Emily Arlott 1 (3) was short-lived, caught by Lucy Higham, from Josie Groves *Charis Pavely 15(23) was caught by Lucy Higham from Josie Groves *Georgia Davis 8(22) was caught by Kirstie Gordon, from Kathryn Bryce *Finally, Hannah Baker 3(15) was caught by Kathryn Bryce, from Grace Ballinger *Best ‘Sparks’ batter was Bethan Ellis 53(97); *Best ‘Blaze’ bowlers were Josie Groves (3/39) & Grace Ballinger (2/24.)

‘Blaze’s’ Innings Skipper Kirstie Gordon [Abbey Freeborn keeping wicket for Sparks] *With Nat Sciver-Brunt & Kirstie Gordon (England), Kathryn & Sarah Bryce (Scotland); *International player Lizelle Lee (ex Rep. South Africa) but without Nadine de Klerk (Rep. South Africa call-up) *Openers Lizelle Lee & Tammy Beaumont bagged 61 runs. *There followed 5-wickets batting-collapse to spin (Georgia Davis & Hannah Baker); for just 18 runs.*Lizelle Lee 40(31) was caught by Eve Jones, from Katie George *Tammy Beaumont 24(31) was ‘run-out’ at the striker’s end by Charis Pavely/keeper Abbey Freeborn. *Sarah Bryce 7(20) was caught and bowled by Georgia Davis *Georgie Boyce 0(6) was bowled by Hannah Baker for a sixth-ball duck.*Lucy Higham was caught at mid-wicket by Maddy Green. *Mounting an 8th wicket partnership of 62 runs from 90 balls, Natalie ‘Nat’ Sciver-Brunt 66*not out (71) partnered by skipper Kirstie Gordon 15*not out, saw ‘Blaze’ home with almost five overs to spare. *Best ‘Blaze’ batter was Natalie ‘Nat’ Sciver-Brunt 66*not out (71); *Best ‘Sparks’ bowlers were Georgia Davis (2/28) & Hannah Baker (2/37.)

Match Summary: ‘Sparks’ lost two early wickets including skipper Eve Jones, chalking-up a low power-play score. As mentioned above, Katie George & Bethan Ellis staged a 5th wicket partnership that added 83 runs. Both batters scored ‘fifty.’ Remaining ‘Sparks’ five wickets fell for 40 runs. ‘Blaze’ openers (Lizelle Lee & Tammy Beaumont) bagged 61 runs. Match advantage shifted when ‘Sparks’ total plumetted from 73/2 to 91/6; as spinners (Georgia Davis & Hannah Baker) took five ‘Blaze’ wickets for 18 runs. ‘Heroic’ effort by skipper Kirstie Gordon batting for 73 minutes, sensibly kept Nat Sciver-Brunt (66*not out, from 71 balls) batting at the striker’s end. With an unassailable top-of-table lead, ‘The Blaze’ (38 points) seem assured of their golden ticket to the finals, during their inaugural year. ‘Sparks’ remain second-placed (on 27 points.)

Match result: The Blaze 193/7 (target 190) beat Central Sparks 189/10 by three wickets (with 29 balls remaining)

‘Sparks’s’ batting 189/10 (49.5/50 overs @3.7 runs-per-over); Bethan Ellis 53(97), Katie George 50(57), Charis Pavely 15(23), Ami Campbell 11(10); ‘Blaze’s’ bowling: Josie Groves 3/39, Grace Ballinger 2/24, Kathryn Bryce 2/27, Sophie Munro 1/22, Kirstie Gordon 1/27, Lucy Higham 1/34; Fow 1-11, 2-26, 3-38, 4-66, 5-149, 6-157, 7-161, 8-171, 9-183, 10-189.

‘Blaze’s’ batting 193/7 (45.1/50 overs @4.2 runs-per-over); Natalie ‘Nat’ Sciver-Brunt 66*not out (71), Lizelle Lee 40(31), Tammy Beaumont 24(31), Lucy Higham 20(43), Kirstie Gordon 15*not out(55); ‘Sparks’’ bowling: Georgia Davis 2/28, Hannah Baker 2/37, Katie George 2/40; Fow 1-61, 2-73, 3-77, 4-80, 5-89, 6-91, 7-131.

Scorecard  courtesy of ECB @URL

Video highlights, via NV Play @URL

Match free-to-air courtesy of Central Sparks (believed to be via NV Play) on ‘YouTube’ Livestream [starting from 00m01s /7h08m14] @URL: