Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy
Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Logo Sat 4 May, 10:30

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Central Sparks

Central Sparks

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Central Sparks

Northern Diamonds

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Report: Sparks v Diamonds, RHF Trophy

Northern Diamonds beat Central Sparks by one run in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in a thrilling match with the most sensational finish at Edgbaston.

Chasing 216, Sparks entered the last over, bowled by captain Hollie Armitage, needing just four to win with three wickets in hand, but lost all those three wickets to fall short on 215.

Armitage ended with three for 40 after a delivering an ice-nerved final over which secured her side’s third victory in the competition this season.

Diamonds chose to bat but were bowled out for 216 by a disciplined attack in which six bowlers took wickets. Former Sparks player Erin Burns offered most resistance with 49 (63 balls), supported by a late cameo by the in-form Abi Glen (31 not out, 27).  

A second-wicket century stand by Eve Jones (65, 98) and Abi Freeborn (49, 70) then gave the Sparks chase a strong platform but the last nine wickets fell for 103 – and the last five for just 15 – as Diamonds squeezed home in memorable fashion.

Diamonds openers Lauren Winfield-Hill (28, 47 balls) and Emma Marlow (20, 38) supplied their side with a solid, if sedate, start with a stand of 45 from 74 balls. Both were skilfully uprooted by Katie George who shaped one away from Winfield-Hill to find the edge and bowled Marlow with an inswinging yorker. 

Hollie Armitage and Bess Heath also made a start but didn’t develop it. Armitage miscued Hannah Baker to mid off and Heath was brilliantly caught, one-handed, by Eve Jones in the same position off Grace Potts. Leah Dobson ladled Potts over mid-wicket for six but followed the get-in-then-get-out trend when she was yorked by Charis Pavely. 

As Jones juggled her attack cleverly to keep the batters thinking, Phoebe Turner chipped Pavely to mid off before Ria Fackrell struck twice in an over. Sophie Turner clipped to mid-wicket and Burns was caught at mid off. The latter departed having held the innings together with a diligent 49 which included just two fours alongside six twos and 29 singles.

Glen went to the crease averaging 92 with the bat this season and returned averaging 123 after striking two sixes in three balls off Issy Wong in a punchy ninth-wicket stand of 38 with Jess Woolstone.

Burns soon damaged Sparks’ reply when she held a simple return catch from Pavely in the second over. Jones and Freeborn added 105 in 25 overs to lift their side into a promising position but the departure of Jones, who drove Sophie Turner to cover, triggered a collapse. 

Freeborn, called for a quick single by Courtney Webb, was run out by Sophie Turner’s throw. Katie Levick then struck twice in four balls. Ami Campbell reverse swept her first ball for four but chipped the third back to Levick. Webb fell lbw, sweeping and from 112 for one, Sparks had hit 145 for five.

George (35, 55) and Bethan Ellis (23, 40) adding 56 in 14 overs but Ellis was caught at over with 16 still needed and the last over arrived with four required. Armitage had George caught at backward point off the first ball and, after a wide and a single, trapped Fackrell lbw with the fifth before Potts was run out off the last trying to scramble a bye for the tie.

Central Sparks Head Coach Lloyd Tennant said: “If you are a neutral, that was an unbelievable game of cricket but we are obviously disappointed to be on the losing side. When we’ve played at Edgbaston before, the pitches have been the sort that it’s best to take ten balls to get in and get the pace of them. We built some good partnerships and were cruising the game but then lost wickets in little clusters and didn’t seem able to find those ten balls and get ourselves in and then try to get home.

“We put ourselves under pressure and allowed them back into the game. We probably bossed three quarters of the game but the quarter that you need to win is that last one.

“It was good to see Jonesy back in the runs and that bodes well for the future and there were some good bowling performances. There are a lot of positives. Such a narrow defeat is always hard but we have played a good side and played very well against them.”

Over 13,000 sold for Women’s IT20 vs Pakistan

Pakistan Women will be in Birmingham on Saturday 11 May 2024 and over 13,000 tickets have already been sold.

With the Men’s IT20 already sold out, this is your last chance to see Pakistan at Edgbaston next summer and tickets are available from only £17, with under 16s £5.

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