Source: Bruce Perkins

Sun shines on the Stars

  • +1

South East Stars v The Blaze

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy

Yet another day of great heat to welcome the two top sides in this year’s RHF Trophy.

But England calls have played havoc with team choices. Stars proved to have far greater depth of talent, despite Blaze’s dominant position in the table.

Bryony Smith chose to bat first. That looked an unwise decision as Grace Ballinger knocked louder at England’s front door. In the opening over she pinned young Jemima Spence in front, then had Kira Chathli beaten all ends up. Ballinger was threatening both sides of the bat.

1-2 turned into a very misleading omen.

Smith restored some sanity in a stand of 57 with Alice Davidson-Richards, who may or may not already have heard the glad tidings: she was recalled to the England squad, as Lauren Bell was still laid low by illness.

To judge by ADR’s innings alone, she knew. She was calmness itself, happy to offer her forward defensive time after time, but alternating with more productive shots, as the sun mounted higher.

Lucy Higham was the other Blaze bowler to impress; her off-spin needed careful treatment. It was quite a while before she floated one up and ADR smashed it straight back over her head for a mighty six.

Aylish Cranstone didn’t last long, but in came Paige Scholfield to remind us she’s in very fine form. The game turned on her partnership with ADR; they gathered 119 runs as the bowlers toiled. She finally fell (56/61) to a mistimed sweep to Josie Groves, who deserved the wicket after two catches had gone down off her leg-breaks.

But ADR motored on, looking totally in control of events. Bethan Miles gave her excellent company, scoring 33 off 32 balls. She was to do equally well with the ball after the break.

ADR reached an outstanding 100 to receive a standing ovation. (101/128; 11×4, 1×6).

It was noticeable how after the centurion’s departure Stars added a further 51 runs at good pace. Depth of batting is one feature of a fine side.

The Reply

To be frank, if you didn’t know The Blaze were the runaway leaders of the Trophy table, you wouldn’t have guessed it from their performance here.

Of course, players to have worn the colours this year like Nat Sciver-Brunt weren’t around to add some sparkle; but Stars were missing characters like Sophia Dunkley and Alice Capsey too.

Almost inevitably Ryana Macdonald-Gay, who opened the attack, took some hammer from Blaze’s latest signing, Lizelle Lee. But at the other end, a second left-arm quick (like Ballinger) set the tone for what was to follow. Alexa Stonehouse bowled five overs for precisely four runs. (5-3-4-1). She’s had some decent spells already in her short career, but this one may well remain a personal favourite.

Certainly, once RMG encouraged Lee to mistime a catch to Scholfield at extra (22/18) – what did ADR suggest to her between deliveries?

A powerplay total of 42-3 proved a far more accurate forecast of things to come than that the 1-2 at the start. Nobody could take the bull by the horns till the acting skipper, Kirstie Gordon, came in at No 8 to top-score with 40 off 39. But by then it was far too late.

At around a quarter to five the ground saw its first raindrops since (sorry, I can’t remember, it’s so long ago), but the umpires’ bravery was rewarded, and play continued.

Miles completed a fine all-round match by outperforming Gordon with her left-arm spin (8-0-26-2). Dani Gregory was held back till the 24th over, but she achieved the breakthrough Smith had been seeking Though the Blaze had never been in a winning position, the Stars simply had to bowl them out to satisfy themselves. Gregory did the trick (7-0-32-3).


SES 278 (RR 5.56)
Blaze 171 (38 overs)
Stars win by 107


SES: Smith (captain), Spence, Chathli (w-k), Davidson-Richards, Cranstone, Scholfield, Hill, Miles, Sonehouse, Macdonald-Gay, Gregory

Blaze: Lee, Graves, Boyce, Kirk, Claridge, Munro, Higham, Gordon (captain), Groves, McCarthy, Ballinger.

This leaves the top of the table looking like this (all have played 12):

                       W      L        Pts

Blaze            7         2        38
SES              6         5         31
Vipers          5        4         28
Sparks         5        4         27

It’s a funny old world, but sides that had languished for long periods are now winning strings of games; Sunrisers take the biscuit here; after suffering years of winlessness, they’ve won four times.

As for the other side of that coin, have a quiet word with Western Storm. Or perhaps not.