Source: Julian Thompson

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy 2023 – match 57- Play-off

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The Blaze vs South East Stars at Beckenham, at The County Ground (Kent CCC) on September 21 

Match that will be remembered for ‘Blaze’ qualifying to play ‘Vipers’ in the Northampton final, at the expense of ’Stars’ who are eliminated from the competition. Despite adverse batting conditions, Sarah Bryce (pictured) was lauded by commentators as ‘magnificent.’ Firstly, as ‘Blaze’s’ keeper, Sarah Bryce’s stumping took ’Stars’’ final tenth wicket. Secondly, when batting, Sarah Bryce not only made top-score of the day [scoring 34 runs from 26 balls.] Thirdly, Sarah Bryce also hit the match-winning ’six.’ Commentators who came armed full of stats, expecting at least one batter to score ‘fifty:’ were Michael McCann and Jamie Reid (BBC Sound – Kent Radio.) Summarising the match, commentators emphasised that rain was a ’significant factor.’ Additional threat of lightning causing a lengthy three hours hiatus during ‘Blaze’ innings, to safeguard the players well-being. When play eventually resumed, Sarah Bryce excelled in ‘difficult’ batting conditions, making top-score and hitting the match-winning ’six.’ Weather: started in perfect conditions 18C with inclement weather arriving at noon that kept ground-staff busy with the ‘covers.’ Video highlights courtesy of ECB (NV Play) & South East Stars (please see below.)

Stars innings: *Skipper Bryony Smith [*Sarah Bryce keeping wicket for Blaze] *With Alice Capsey & Alice Davidson-Richards returned from England duties. (*Without Sophia Dunkley.) *Also with academy player Bethan Miles (*Without Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones, Kalea Moore, or Jemima Spence);  *Chloe Hill loaned from Sparks. Freya Davies & Tash Farrant seen casually spectating. *Facing her second ball, Kira Chathli 0(2) was bowled, middle-stump skittled out-of-the-ground by Grace Ballinger (1/41) for a 2nd ball ‘duck.’ *Grace Ballinger said to have ‘added a yard’ to her pace, as the 6th highest wicket-taker. *During the tenth over, Bryony Smith 21(27) was bowled with her off-stump knocked back and bails sent flying, by Kirstie Gordon; *After ten overs ‘Power-play’ ‘Stars’ were 42/2. *Next over, Alice Capsey 5(6) chopped across-the-line and either ‘played-on’ or was bowled ‘top-of-middle’ by Josie Groves (1/26); *After scoring ‘six:’ Alice Davidson-Richards 8(8) was bowled top-of-middle by Kirstie Gordon (2/14); *Brief recovery followed collapsed until Alexa Stonehouse 20(40) was caught ‘in the deep’ by Marie Kelly, from Lucy Higham (1/17); *Commentator’s curse struck next over, when Paige Scholfield 3(7) who’d ‘doubled her batting average’ since moving from ‘Vipers’ to ‘Stars’ was caught-and-bowled by Marie Kelly diving leg-side to take the return catch; *Commentator’s curse struck again when Aylish Cranstone 13(26) ‘looked comfortable as middle-order anchor, but missed a ‘square-cut,’ and went ‘leg-before’ to Marie Kelly (2/7);  *By mid-way (25 overs) ‘Stars’ were 87/7; *Bethan Miles 17(34) went plumb ‘leg-before’ to Kathryn Bryce; *Facing a proper ‘truly defined’ batting collapse, drinks were taken beneath a towering weather-front of dark clouds, on 104/8. Ninth wicket partnership between Ryana Macdonald-Gay and Chloe Hill added 33 runs; *Chloe Hill 21(55) top-edged to Sophie Munro ‘in the deep,’ from Kathryn Bryce (2/36) *Ryana Macdonald-Gay 26(48) came down-the-wicket to Lucy Higham 2/20, and was stumped by keeper Sarah Bryce, closing Stars innings 66 balls prematurely. *Danielle Gregory 3*(10) was ’not-out’ *Best ‘Stars’ batter was Ryana Macdonald-Gay 26(48.)

Blaze’s Innings *Skipper Kirstie Gordon [*Kira Chathli keeping wicket for ‘Stars’] *With Kathryn & Sarah Bryce (Scotland) *Also with International player Lizelle Lee but without Nadine deKlerk (Republic of South Africa.) *Also with Sophie Munro for Teresa Graves. (*Without Tammy Beaumont, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Michaela Kirk or Ella Claridge.) *As mentioned above, thunder-and-lightning interrupted the match with Blaze on 15/1. *When play resumed some three hours and eight minutes later, ‘Blaze’ needed 37 runs to win from 40 balls. *Lizelle Lee 2(5) was ’run-out’ by Alice Davidson-Richards throw to Kira Chathli at the striker’s-end. *Commentator’s curse struck once again when Marie Kelly 4(7) ‘had plenty of work to do,’ and had disclosed that she wanted ‘to bat for some time,’ snicked an edge to keeper Kira Chathli from Alexa Stonehouse (1/22); *Scoring faster than one-run-per-ball, best ‘Blaze’ batter Sarah Bryce hit the winning ‘six’ from Bryony Smith and carried her bat on 34* not-out (from 26 balls); *Georgie Boyce 9*(14) was ’not-out.’ *Only ’Stars’ bowler to take a wicket was Alexa Stonehouse 1/22.

Match summary: Summarising the match, commentators emphasised that rain was a ’significant factor.’ When innings-anchor Aylish Cranstone fell ‘leg-before’ to Marie Kelly during the 20th over, ‘Stars’ were 77/7; with inclement weather fast approaching as forecast. ‘Covers’ came on-and-off with a fifteen minute hiatus for a heavy shower of rain as ‘Stars’ innings added 33 runs for the 9th wicket before stopping short of the 150-mark. ‘Blaze’ innings was adjourned abruptly as heavy rain evolved into a thunder storm by the time a full set of covers was rushed on, causing another three hour’s delay. When play restarted, 40 overs were docked from ‘Blaze’s’ innings, resulting in a reduced Duckworth-Lewis-Stern target of 52 runs, with the minumum number of ten overs needed to guarantee a result. As mentioned above, Sarah Bryce made top score, hitting a final ‘six’ to propel ‘Blaze’ into finals day. Previously, ‘Blaze’ had started the contest with six back-to-back wins. After the match, Sarah Bryce told reporters she was optimistic, to continue the team’s feeling of momentum into the ‘final,’ following ‘Blaze’s’ win. Trophy final between ‘Blaze’ and ‘Vipers’ will be played at The County Ground Northampton on September 24.  @URL

Match result: The Blaze 52/2 (target 52 from 8.4/10 overs) beat South East Stars 148/10 (43.5/50 overs) by eight wickets; DLS Method

*Stars’’ batting: 148/10 (43.5/50 overs @3.37 runs-per-over) Ryana Macdonald-Gay 26(48), Bryony Smith 21(27), Chloe Hill 21(55), Alexa Stonehouse 20(40), Bethan Miles 17(34), Aylish Cranstone 13(26); ‘Blaze’s’ bowling: Marie Kelly 2/7, Kirstie Gordon 2/14, Lucy Higham 2/20, Kathryn Bryce 2/36, Josie Groves 1/26, Grace Ballinger 1/41; Fow: 1-0, 2-41, 3-46, 4-57, 5-65, 6-68, 7-77, 8-104, 9-137, 10-148.

*‘Blaze’s’ batting: 52/2 (8.4/10 overs @6.0 r-p-o); Sarah Bryce 34*not out (26); ‘Stars’’ bowling: Alexa Stonehouse 1/22; Fow: 1-1, 2-17.

*Scorecard courtesy of ECB @URL

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

*Match free-to-air courtesy of South East Stars (believed to be via NV Play) on ‘YouTube’ Livestream [starting from 13m57/7h11m05s/rain3h30m-6h38m] @URL