Source: Julian Thompson

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy 2024 – match 3

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Central Sparks vs The Blaze at Birmingham (Edgbaston Stadium) on April 20 (10h30) 

Skipper Eve Jones was ‘chuffed,’ for Sparks inaugural win, beating Blaze for the first time at 50 overs. Commentators highlighted Sparks’ previous history of ‘dropped catches’ that for them, overshadowed this Midlands derby. Electing to bat first on a ‘tricky pitch’ Blaze’s Nadine de Klerk peppered Sparks batters with ‘tight bowling’ and ‘dot balls’ to restrict Sparks power-play score to just 26/1. Commentators complemented Abbey Freeborn (pictured) who played her shots, making top score with a match-winning ‘fifty.’ Between innings the match seemed nicely balanced. When Blaze replied, Sparks’ seamers (Emily Arlott paired with Issy Wong) reduced Blaze’s power-play to a menial score of 14/3. Eve Jones suffered a nightmare dropped-catch at slip. Commentators complemented Davina Perrin (who’d previously scored back-to-back winning ‘fifties’ during England u19’s IT20 tour of SriLanka.) Without key players, Blaze’s run-chase faltered, handing victory to Sparks with a wider margin than commentators might have expected. Commentators were Mike Perkins (Sports journalist) and Claire B Jenkins (former Somerset & Derbys women) with guest Barbara Daniels (ex England women, West Mids & Staffs.) Match was played in cloudy dry conditions 10-12C.

*Sparks’ Innings *Skipper Evelyn ‘Eve’ Jones with Hannah Baker & Issy Wong (England A) Davina Perrin (England u-19s) *Without Amy Jones (England) [*Ella Claridge keeping wicket for Blaze] *Slow start. *After 10 overs power-play 26/1 reaching 84/3 by mid-way (25 overs.) *Debutante as wicket-keeper Ella Claridge made two stumpings, bagging Ami Campbell’s wicket after mid-way (off Marie Kelly) *Ella Claridge also stumped Abbey Freeborn (off Sophie Munro) who made top-score with ‘fifty.’*’Useful contributions’ edged toward a half-decent total score, past the 200-mark. *Two tailenders (Katie George & Ria Fackrell) exceeded the one-run-per-ball ‘par’ strike rate. *Sparks’ batting: 9 batters made double-figures.*Abbey Freeborn 53(87), Katie George 32(30), Chloe Brewer 22(29), Bethan Ellis 21(30), Davina Perrin 18(38), Izzy Wong 13(14), Ami Campbell 13(21), Eve Jones 12(34), Ria Fackrell 12(11); *Blaze’s bowling: 5/6 bowlers took wickets: Grace Ballinger 3/47, Sophie Munro 2/28, Marie Kelly 1/22, Nadine deKlerk 1/35, Kirstie Gordon 1/52;

*Blaze’s innings *Skipper Kirstie Gordon (England A), Beth Harmer (England u-19s) *With Michaela Kirk & Nadine deKlerk ‘just flown-in’ (from Rep. South Africa) *Daisy Mullan (on 5-match loan from Thunder) *Without Kathryn & Sarah Bryce (Scotland duties) & Lucy Higham (England A); *Fielded a ‘youthful’ team (explained by injuries & international call-up.) [*Abbey Freeborn keeping wicket for Sparks] *Even slower start by batters facing dual fast-medium bowling from Emily Arlott & Issy Wong. *Blaze’s power-play score was lower than expected 13/3 (vs 26/1); *Blaze fell some way short of their required run rate by mid-way: 66/4 (vs 84/3) *Top-scorer Nadine deKlerk was batting at No.5. *Too much pressure placed upon tail-enders. *All-but-one batter (Cassidy McCarthy) missed par strike rate, Team Blaze averaging around 3 runs-per-over. *Blaze’s batting: 5 batters made double-figures. Nadine deKlerk 43(65), Ella Claridge 19(41), Daisy Mullan 18(38), Beth Harmer 17(25), Cassidy McCarthy 12(10); Sparks’ bowling: All six bowlers took wickets: Hannah Baker 3/29, Emily Arlott 2/5, Katie George 2/26, Bethan Ellis 1/16, Issy Wong 1/25, Ria Fackrell 1/31.

Match result: Central Sparks 213/9; awarded 5 points (50/50 overs @4.3 runs-per-over) beat The Blaze 135 (41/50 overs, target 214 from 50 overs @3.3 rpo) by 78 runs with 54 balls remaining

*Scorecard courtesy of ECB @URL https://www.ecb.co.uk/rachael-heyhoe-flint-trophy/match-centre/104414#scorecard

*Video highlights, courtesy of ECB & Central Sparks (via NV Play) @URL https://edgbaston.com/fixtures/womens/central-sparks-vs-the-blaze-saturday-20th-april-2024/

*Reporters network (Jamie Ramage) @URL https://edgbaston.com/fixtures/womens/central-sparks-vs-the-blaze-saturday-20th-april-2024/ & https://www.trentbridge.co.uk/news/2024/april/de-klerk-shows-all-round-excellence-in-defeat.html

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