Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy
Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Logo Wed 24 April, 10:30


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Southern Vipers

Southern Vipers

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Southern Vipers

Central Sparks

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Report: Southern Vipers v Sparks, RHF Trophy

Australian Charli Knott continued to impress with bat and ball as Southern Vipers secured the first victory of their defence of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

For the second game in a row, Knott picked up two spin wickets but upgraded the 41 she scored against South East Stars into an unbeaten 58 to set up a seven-wicket victory over Central Sparks.

Katie George had saved Sparks from a collapse with a classy 52 to give her side 151 to defend.

But Ella McCaughan’s patient 43, Maia Bouchier’s elegant 43 and Knott’s in-control innings gave Vipers an uncomplicated bonus point win.

Vipers only had one fast bowler in their attack, while Sparks were fully stocked with pace – but it was the hosts that got a flyer with the ball.

Sparks were 31 for four and then 84 for seven, after being stuck in, as the Vipers kept taking wickets and building pressure.

Eve Jones was the first to depart as she fatally took on Bouchier’s arm at mid-off in the sixth over, before Knott pounced in her first over when Davina Perrin chipped to point.

Also swooping at the picturesque Wormsley was a family of red kites, who stole an orange of Sparks’ Hannah Baker and a banana off Vipers assistant coach James Hibbard.

Abbey Freeborn was bowled by Linsey Smith, as the visitors only reached 27 in the first 10 over powerplay, before the left-arm spinner grabbed when Ami Campbell thumped back at her. Smith would end up with two for 20, with four maidens – the most economical Vipers bowling figures.

Chloe Brewer had driven nicely and looked in good nick for her 23 before she tamely drove to Emily Windsor at cover, before Emily Arlott missed a Georgia Adams arm ball.

Issy Wong picked out mid off, but just as Sparks looked at a worrying sub-100 score, George and Ria Fackrell added 77.

George, who had picked up five penalty runs after being hit with the ball by Charlie Dean, was in complete control throughout her innings – keeping things ticking on the leg side and using the offside for more expansive shots.

She reached her third Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy half-century in 98 balls, with Fackrell accompanying her with 39 to reach a more defendable total.

But George fell the ball after raising her bat as she picked out long on, with Fackrell run out in the last over as Sparks set 172.

In reply, Bouchier carried over her form from England’s tour of New Zealand – where she scored 293 runs in eight innings – with boundaries galore in a glorious 32-ball 33 before she was adjudged lbw.

Queenslander Knott replaced her and was the subject of another controversial moment – with Wong initially claiming a boundary catch, but the Vipers contingent insistent she had stepped on the boundary rope. After a lively conversation, both teams agreed to a six rather than a wicket.

McCaughan took the George-approach with a watchful 43, with a seeming instruction to bat through, but after a barrage of well-directed short balls from Wong, she pulled to square leg.

Knott continued with Georgia Elwiss in a 56 run stand, before the right-hander reached her milestone in 79 balls – with victory coming shortly afterwards, despite Elwiss being given out leg before to Fackrell.

Central Sparks all-rounder Katie George: “You are always up against it when you get anything under 200. It was a bit slow up top and we struggled a little bit – then it was about trying to find a way to get to a good score.

“We were a fair way short but with our bowling attack we always feel like we are in the game. I thought it was hard to build pressure but it wasn’t through a lack of trying.

“I’ve been batting more at seven and haven’t had to come in too early so I have been having a bit of a licence. Today was a different role so it is nice to know that I can do both. It is all learning for me, I’m happy with how I’ve gone but I will sit back and think I could have done a few things better to get to 200.

“We searched for wickets up top but we probably didn’t get the lines as consistent as we wanted to. You always need to balance striving for wickets and trying to hard.

“We always thought a couple of wickets and we were in with a shout but they have batted well today and shown us how to accumulate runs. It is a long season so we won’t dwell on it too much.”

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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