Source: Julian Thompson

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy 2023 – match 53 – Sparks vs Stars

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Central Sparks vs South East Stars at Edgbaston Stadium Birmingham, on September 16

Beefed-up by England returners Alice Davidson-Richards (for ‘Stars’) and Issy Wong (for ’Sparks), commentators introduced the match as a ‘virtual quarter-final’ or ’shootout’ for third place, to decide who plays in the Play-off/Eliminator. Losing team plays their final match of the competition with insufficient number of points to qualify beyond the group stage. ‘Sparks’ commentators said that ‘Stars’ skipper Bryony Smith (pictured) [(97runs (from 81 balls)] ’deserved a century’ having provided entertainment by scoring three ’sixes,’ one of which humourously ‘left the ground’ through an open gate where ‘ground-staff tractors’ were kept. ’Stars’ keeper Kira Chathli 61(92) chalked-up ‘fifty,’ both batters scores accentuating the difference between the two teams. Commentator was Claire B Jenkins (for Central Sparks, former Somerset & Derbys women); with Raf Nicholson (introduced as ‘Dr cricket’) & Syd Egan (The CRICKETher, social media ‘podcast.’) Video highlights courtesy of ECB (NV Play) & Edgbaston Cricket TV (please see below.) Weather at Egdbaston was described as ‘misty and overcast, evolving into an ‘autumnal’ morning surrounded by ’white sky.’

Stars’ innings: *Skipper Bryony Smith (*Abbey Freeborn keeping wicket for Sparks) *With Alice Davidson-Richards returned from England duties. *Also Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones (*Without Kalea Moore, & Jemima Spence); *Chloe Hill loaned from Sparks. *Promoted to ‘play aggressively,’ Alexa Stonehouse 6(12) steepled a catch to ‘mid-on,’ by Katie George arriving from ‘long-on;’ bowled by Emily Arlott (1/47.) *After 10 overs ‘Power-play,’ ‘Stars’ were 41/1; reaching 138/1 by mid-way (25 overs); *Century partnership between Kira Chathli and Bryony Smith ended when Kira Chathli 61(92) was caught at ‘short-third,’ (‘behind the square on the off-side’) by Grace Potts, from Hannah Baker. *Commentators curse struck when ‘Sparks’ ‘needed a wicket’ and Bryony Smith 97(81) who ‘deserved’ a century, prodded’ a catch to Grace Potts, from Georgia Davis. *Said by commentators to gesture ‘cartoonishly’ after each shot, Alice Davidson-Richards ’AD-R’ 26(40) snicked-an-edge that ‘looped-up’ a catch to keeper Abbey Freeborn, from Katie George (1/45); *AD-R said to depart with ‘animated’ annoyance. *Paige Scholfield 9(7) made a ‘slog-sweep’ falling short of ‘cow corner,’ and was caught ‘in-the-deep’ by Katie George; from Georgia Davis. *Missing a ‘sweep’ shot, Aylish Cranstone 8(12), was bowled, her ‘off-stump’ flattened by Hannah Baker, who came ‘around-the-wicket’ to the left-hander. *With nine overs remaining, a 7th wicket partnership between Chloe Hill and Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones added 57 runs. *With five balls left, Chloe Hill 34(31) was ‘run-out’ when diving flat-out, by Ami Campbell’s throw from ‘long-on’ to Katie George. *Katie George rolled over to break-the-wicket at the non-striker’s end. *Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones closed 24*not out(26); with Ryana MacDonald-Gay 0*not out(2) *Best ‘Stars’ batter was Bryony Smith *Best ‘Sparks’ bowlers were Hannah Baker 2/46 & Georgia Davis 2/47.

Sparks’ innings: *Skipper Eve Jones (Kira Chathli  keeping wicket for Stars) With Issy Wong (without Davina Perrin) *International player Maddy Green (NZ); without/replacing Erin Burns (Australia) *Eve Jones 6(21) snicked an edge to keeper Kira Chathli from Ryana MacDonald-Gay; *Bethan Ellis 11(16) also snicked an edge to Kira Chathli from Ryana MacDonald-Gay *After 10 overs ‘Power-play,’ ‘Sparks’ were level-pegging on 42/2 (vs 41/1) *Abbey Freeborn 20(22) went ‘leg-before’ to Paige Scholfield *Ten balls later, Ami Campbell 0(6) was caught by Paige Scholfield, for a 6th ball ‘duck’ from Alice Davidson-Richards; *Having faced four ‘dot’ balls, Katie George 7(11) snicked an edge to Kira Chathli from Alice Davidson-Richards. Next ball, AD-R chalked-up a ‘wicket-maiden.’ *Emily Arlott 4(24) was cleanbowled by Ryana MacDonald-Gay (3/27); *By mid-way (25 overs) ‘Sparks’ were 102/6 (vs 138/1); *Next ball, Maddy Green 39(48) who’d offered spirited resistance, was bowled by Danielle Gregory (1/26); *Next over, Georgia Davis 1(4) was caught by Paige Scholfield from Alexa Stonehouse (1/29) *Issy Wong 11 (18) was caught-and-bowled by Alice Davidson-Richards (3/20) *Facing Bryony Smith’s first ball, Hannah Baker 11(18) went ‘leg-before’ to Bryony Smith (1/0). *Grace Potts 9*not out(25) *Best ‘Sparks’ batter was Maddy Green 39(48); *Best ’Stars’ bowlers were Alice Davidson-Richards 3/20 & Ryana Macdonald-Gay 3/27.

Match summary: ’Stars’’ Century 2nd wicket partnership between Kira Chathli and Bryony Smith banked 125 runs. ’Stars’’ total was later boosted by Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones and Chloe Hill (ironically loaned to ‘Stars’ by ‘Sparks’) adding 57 runs. Where ‘Sparks” bowlers (Hannah Baker and Georgia Davis) both took two wickets each with spin, ‘Stars” bowlers (Alice Davidson-Richards 3/20, Ryana Macdonald-Gay) not only took three wickets each with seam, but were more economical, conceding half the runs. Without any ‘Sparks’ batters scoring ‘fifty,’ their required-run-rate rocketed leaving tail-enders with too much to do. As losers, ’Sparks’ (31 points) finished in fifth place, with insufficient number of points to qualify beyond the group stage. As a consolation, ‘Sparks’ finished one place higher than the defending champions (Diamonds.)‘Stars’ (36 points) qualified in third place, for the Play-off/Eliminator match, to be played at their home ground (The County Ground KCCC, Beckenham) on September 21st; (rather than at Trent Bridge or Loughborough’s Haslegrave Ground as some commentators had mis-stated or incorrectly assumed.) Latest fixture details @URL

Match result: South East Stars 283/7 beat Central Sparks 131/10 by 152 runs, with 89 balls remaining

*’Stars” batting: 283/7 (from 50/50overs@5.6 runs-per-over) Bryony Smith 97(81), Kira Chathli 61(92), Chloe Hill 34(31), Alice Davidson-Richards 26(40), Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones 24*not out(26); *Sparks” bowling: Hannah Baker 2/46, Georgia Davis 2/47, Katie George 1/45, Emily Arlott 1/47; *Fow 1-14, 2-139, 3-199, 4-205, 5-213, 6-223, 7-280.

*’Sparks” batting: 131/10 (from 35.1/50overs@3.7 r-p-o) Maddy Green 39(48), Abbey Freeborn 20(22), Bethan Ellis 11(16), Hannah Baker 11(18), Issy Wong 11(18); *’Stars” bowling: Alice Davidson-Richards 3/20, Ryana Macdonald-Gay 3/27, Bryony Smith 1/0, Danielle Gregory 1/26, Paige Scholfield 1/27, Alexa Stonehouse 1/29; *Fow 1-22, 2-31, 3-65, 4-67, 5-65, 6-87, 7-102, 8-103, 9-116, 10-131.

*Scorecard courtesy of ECB @URL

*Video highlights, via  ECB (via NV Play) @URL

*Match free-to-air courtesy of Central Sparks (believed to be via NV Play) on ‘YouTube’ Livestream [starting from 22m54/6h42m30s] @URL