Report: Sparks v Thunder, Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy
Central Sparks resumed their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy programme in solid style with a 29-run victory over struggling Thunder at New Road, Worcester.
Sparks put a disappointing Charlotte Edwards Cup campaign behind them as they totalled 233 all out from exactly 50 overs thanks principally to Ami Campbell (68, 72 balls) and Abbey Freeborn (67, 98). Tara Norris kept the Sparks total to around par with four for 42.
Seren Smale’s superb career-best 94 (125 balls) then proved to be in vain as Thunder were bowled out for 204 by a Sparks attack which maintained collective pressure as six bowlers got among the wickets, Katie George taking three for 57.
The defeat leaves bottom-of-the-table Thunder still looking for their first 50-over win of the season but Sparks will move forward with their sights still very much on going all the way in the competition.
Thunder skipper Eleanor Threlkeld won the toss and chose to field and her decision was quickly vindicated by the removal of both Sparks openers in 20 balls. Bethan Ellis was bowled through the gate by an inswinging yorker from Mahika Gaur and Norris struck a big blow when she hit Eve Jones’ off stump.
When Erin Burns lifted Gaur to cover, Sparks were in trouble at 27 for three, but Freeborn and Campbell organised a revival with a well-constructed stand of 129 in 26 overs. Campbell counter-attacked effectively, hitting nine fours in a near run-a-ball innings, before she missed a pull at Norris and was superbly stumped by Threlkeld.
The left-armer secured her third wicket next ball when Davina Perrin was adjudged lbw and Sparks’ loss of momentum was heightened when Laura Jackson floated one inside Freeborn’s attempted cut and bowled her.
Charis Pavely restored some impetus with 33 from 36 balls, a cameo which transpired to be crucial, but became Norris’s fourth victim when she lifted to mid-wicket.
Thunder’s reply took an early hit when Naomi Dattani was bowled for a 12-ball duck by a nicely-flighted ball from Georgia Davis. Fi Morris skied Grace Potts into the deep but Smale and Deandra Dottin added 50 in ten overs before the latter (21, 23 balls) missed an attempt to turn Ria Fackrell to leg and fell lbw. Burns then turned one inside Threlkeld’s attempted leg-glance to win another lbw decision.
Danielle Collins (22, 29) helped Smale add 52 in ten overs but both fell in five balls. Collins lifted Ellis to mid off and Smale, six runs short of a thoroughly-deserved maiden century, miscued Katie George to mid off.
That left the Thunder lower order with a tall task – to find 72 from 11 overs – and despite a perky 22 (29 balls) from Norris it was beyond them.
Sparks captain Eve Jones said: “It was a really good all-round performance. After we lost a couple of early wickets, Abbey and Ami batted well to get us into a strong position and then Charis Pavely, who is new to the squad and the team. played a good cameo which got us up to a decent total in the conditions. That’s the sort of late order contribution which we’ve been missing in the past and it was a really mature and valuable knock.
Then all the bowlers bowled well. Pottsy bowled well up top, Georgia Davis had an opportunity in the powerplay and bowled exceptionally and then KG came back really well through the middle and towards the end. Everyone that came on bowled with good control and created opportunities and that makes my life a lot easier as captain because I had a lot of options today.
We came into this game knowing we are not in a bad position and are really pleased to have started this block of games with a win. Now hopefully we can carry this on against the Stars at Guildford next Friday and get on a bit of a roll.”