Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy
Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Logo Sat 20 April, 10:30

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Central Sparks

Central Sparks

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Central Sparks

The Blaze

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Report: Sparks v Blaze, RHF Trophy

Central Sparks ended their 50-over hoodoo against The Blaze with an emphatic 78-run victory on the opening day of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy season at Edgbaston.

Eve Jones’ side had never beaten Blaze in the 50-over format but took advantage of the visitors’ long absentee list due to injury and international commitments to start the season in style. Chasing 213 for nine, Blaze were bowled out for 135.

After choosing to bat, Sparks made a total that was decent rather than imposing after numerous batters made a start but didn’t build on it. Only Abi Freeborn (53, 87 balls) stayed long enough against a disciplined attack led by Grace Ballinger (three for 47) and Sophie Munro (two for 28).

Blaze’s reply was then hit by a superb opening spell of 7-4-5-2 from Emily Arlott as they lurched to 14 for three in ten overs. Nadine de Klerk, just hours after landing in the UK from South Africa, resisted with 43 (65) but was one of three victims for spinner Hannah Baker (three for 29) as Blaze’s depleted team subsided.

Sparks’ innings started slowly in the face of a fine new-ball burst from de Klerk who conceded just four runs in her first four overs. When Jones tried to shed the shackles, she was bowled trying to flick Ballinger to leg.

Chloe Brewer (22, 29 balls) greeted the left arm spin of Kirstie Gordon with a crisp reverse sweep for four but paid a high price for trying to repeat the shot to a ball which was too far up, falling lbw. Munro maintained the pressure for Blaze with an opening spell of 7-1-18-1 which included the removal of Davina Perrin, bowled off-stump.

Former Warwickshire all-rounder Marie Kelly drifted a beauty past Ami Campbell to have her stumped but Freeborn advanced to a composed 82-ball half-century before missing a swipe at Munro and perishing, stumped by Ella Claridge. Katie George provided some late impetus with a 30-ball 32 with five fours before she was yorked by De Klerk.

Sparks started superbly with the ball as Arlott and Issy Wong both conceded just two from their first two overs. Arlott opened with 5-3-4-2 after removing Teresa Graves, caught at mid on, and Kelly, bowled behind her legs. Wong beat Munro for pace to win an lbw decision and when Claridge missed a slog at Bethan Ellis and was bowled, Blaze were 39 for four in the 18th over.

De Klerk and Daisy Mullan, making her debut on a five-match loan from Thunder, halted the slide and added 51 in 77 balls before the introduction of Baker ended the revival. The spinner removed both in five balls, each time defeating an attempted cut as Mullan nicked to the wicketkeeper and de Klerk was bowled middle stump.  

Baker added a third wicket when Michaela Kirk ladled to deep-mid-wicket where George, having shelled two earlier chances, this time held on.

Central Sparks captain Eve Jones said: “We’re delighted with that performance. It’s so important to get out there and start the season well so I am really chuffed with how we played.

“We weren’t really sure what was a good total but, in the end, it wasn’t that easy a pitch to score runs on so our total was a strong one. Then our bowlers came out and hit their straps straight away. Em bowled brilliantly up top, I couldn’t ask more as a captain and Wongy backed her up really well at the other end and everyone supported them really well so we kept taking wickets.

“It’s good to get our first 50-over win over the Blaze and get that money off our back and win the Midlands derby. We had a great pre-season and it was really good to take all that good work into the first game with a really good performance.”

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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