Charlotte Edwards Cup
Charlotte Edwards Cup Logo Sat 22 June, 11:00

The County Ground, Derby

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The Blaze

The Blaze

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The Blaze

Central Sparks

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Report: Sparks v Blaze, Charlotte Edwards Cup

The Blaze booked their place in a third consecutive regional women’s final as they defeated Central Sparks by five wickets with two overs to spare in the first of the two semi-finals on Charlotte Edwards Cup finals day at Derby.

Sparks England Under-19 leg-spinner Hannah Baker took three for 24 but the experience of England opener Tammy Beaumont (39 off 31 balls) and Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce (44 off 39) put The Blaze in control before a cameo 14 off four balls by Baker’s international captain Josie Groves saw last year’s runners-up across the line.

Australian Courtney Webb rescued the Sparks innings from 93 for six with an unbeaten 45 from 31 balls after Davina Perrin (32 from 17) and Ami Campbell (21 from 14) had helped put on 54 in the powerplay after leg-spinner Sophie Groves, taking responsibility in the absence through injury of England’s Sarah Glenn, had taken two for 16 and left-arm pace bowler Grace Ballinger two for 34.

Having been put in on a pitch that looked quite green, the aggressive approach adopted by Sparks openers Campbell and Perrin paid off with runs on the board, although neither survived the opening six overs.

Blaze skipper Kirstie Gordon conceded 14 in her opening over but continued to toss the ball up to Campbell, who followed a six and two fours by being caught at long-on. And with the last ball of the sixth over, having been made to suffer as Perrin crashed her for three fours, Ballinger found the right line and length to bowl the 17-year-old.

The Perrin dismissal signalled a switch of momentum, Sparks slipping from 75 for two in the 10th to 93 for six as skipper Eve Jones fell to a good low return catch by Lucy Higham, Kathryn Bryce ran out Abbey Freeborn off her own bowling  and Groves bowled Katie George  before having Charis Pavely stumped. 

Em Arlott hit Heather Graham straight to extra cover to make it 114 for seven but the Sparks finished well as Ballinger conceded 13 off her final over despite having Grace Potts caught at mid-off before a last over in which Webb was dropped on 41 and should have been run out on 43. 

The Blaze plundered 51 from their batting powerplay, putting them well on track despite the loss of Marie Kelly, who hit an unbeaten 89 against Sparks in their final points table match last Wednesday, fell for eight to a catch at mid-off.  By the halfway point, the Beaumont-Kathryn Bryce partnership had added 57 to take their side to 78 for one.

Sparks then made a second breakthrough as seamer Katie George induced a low return catch to dismiss Beaumont for 39 off 31 before Eve Jones’s team temporarily dried up the flow of boundaries, removing Sarah Bryce via a smart catch behind the wicket, but a huge six by Graham off Grace Potts left The Blaze needing just 33 off the last five overs.

Graham’s stay was short, perishing to a well-judged catch by Arlott at long-on off Webb, and Baker picked up her third wicket to keep the Sparks in the hunt as Kathryn Bryce miscued to mid-on, but Groves crushed any hopes they might have had with three fours off the reel off George to seal victory with two overs to spare.

Sparks skipper Eve Jones said: “We’re disappointed with the result after getting off to a flying start in the powerplay. 

“The way Ami Campbell responded after coming in for Amy Jones. She took it on brilliantly and the way Davina Perrin played, she just showed us what she’s been doing all through the competition.

“But we weren’t able to build on that start on what was a good pitch and were probably a bit under par in the end. From where we were we would have expected to be above 150 and we just didn’t quite give ourselves enough to bowl at.

“We’ve had a great competition to get to finals day here and we’ll now focus on the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and set ourselves again for our ultimate aim of finishing the season with a trophy.”

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