Central Sparks director of cricket Laura MacLeod reflects on the 2023 season, offering her analysis of the two competitions in which we competed in, and offers her hopes and ambition for the team in 2024.
Words by Laura MacLeod
Leading into the 2023 season, we were full of excitement with a bowling attack that was going to challenge the best of teams, a batting line up which contained a scarce commodity in women’s cricket (left-handers), and our young, future stars. It was therefore a disappointment to finish in 7th in the Charlotte Edwards Cup and 5th in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
Our Charlotte Edwards campaign started with a win at Chelmsford against Sunrisers, with Amy Jones scoring a quick fire 50 from 34 balls, meanwhile Emily Arlott picked up 4-23 and Grace Potts 2-13. Onto Edgbaston and playing in front of 1500 school children, this delivered a thrilling game which went the way of the opposition, Northern Diamonds, in the last over. A slow start to the chase meant that the middle order needed to score quickly – Arlott 28 from 21 & Freeborn 22 from 13 balls – getting us within touching distance but not quite over the line. Two defeats by The Blaze and Thunder meant that a win was required to keep our finals day hopes alive. Southern Vipers then visited Edgbaston and departed with no points after Amy Jones scored 45 from 34 balls, and Bethan Ellis took 4 important wickets to secure the points. Our hopes of a finals day appearance was dashed by a last over defeat to Western Storm, and the final group game ended in a loss by 6 runs. Our overseas, Erin Burns, topped the batting for us scoring 185 runs at an average of 26 and taking 9 wickets with an average of 22.
With some injuries occurring during the CEC, this enabled our England U19 World Cup players to make debuts. Left-arm orthodox, left-handed batter, Charis Pavely, and right-arm pace bowler Ellie Anderson made successful debuts.
We had three blocks of 50 over cricket which produced six wins, one tied game, two abandoned and 4 losses. Our first ever tie in the competition came in the first block against Thunder at Old Trafford. Needing nine off the last over and being nine down, we managed to scramble two leg byes to tie the game.
Hove has become our own Fortress, a convincing win against the Vipers (Burns 5-36, Georgia Davis 3-19, Eve Jones 73). Our next victory came away again, this time at Guildford against the South East Stars, and after a poor start our youngster, Charis Pavely alongside Issy Wong put on an 100 run partnership to set what became an unachievable total. The wickets were shared between Wong, Davis, Burns and Katie George that day.
In a rain affected DLS game against Diamonds at Headingley, George showed her potential as a genuine all-rounder taking two wickets out of four and scored 56 from 35 balls. A player of the match performance. Going into the business end of the competition we were well placed for a play-off spot. Unfortunately, we couldn’t secure the 2 wins we required to repeat our 2021 play-off appearance. Eve Jones finished top scorer with 440 and an average of 44. Georgia Davis topped the bowling table with 27 wickets at an average of 14.7. The all-rounder George finished on 18 wickets and 231 runs at averages of 25.
We look to spend the winter honing our techniques, working hard to make continued progress on our fielding, power, and agility ahead of another jam-packed season in 2024.