Central Sparks Head coach Lloyd Tennant saw the loss in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at the hands of the Sunrisers as a ‘missed opportunity’ and admits his side have ‘no choice’ but to win their remaining two fixtures.
Led by captain Grace Scrivens, the Sunrisers achieved back to back wins, giving the Sparks back to back losses, meaning Tennant’s side fell short at Chelmsford.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Eve Jones and the Sparks headed out in the Essex sunshine and put on a strong batting display, which was anchored by a century-scoring performance by Abbey Freeborn.
Freeborn was excellent, Sparks’ number 27 played very professionally at the crease and reached her hundred from (133) balls. Freeborn was helped with cameos from Katie George, Maddy Green and Emily Arlott, and the visitors posted a score of 227/8.
In the field was where things got tough for Sparks, and they struggled to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
On the game, Tennant said: “We gave wickets away quickly, simple wickets like getting caught in the first twenty balls.
“Those came right at the time we’d have been looking to have started another partnership.
“It’s never an easy game against the teams we face, you have to be on it and we just didn’t do enough.”
Freeborn wrote herself into Sparks history by becoming just the third player in the 50 over format to score a century, and on her milestone, Tennant added: “I thought Freeborn was magnificent.
“She not only showed great skill, but great character as well. Freeborn depict how we want to play and played excellently in the heat, and with wickets falling around her.
“Abbey [Freeborn] really fought for the cause and did all that was required of her.”
The game was lost in the field, Sunrisers broke down the 228 target and batted very well. Scrivens, along with Amara Carr and Maddy Villiers all scored half-centuries to get the hosts the win and Tennant realised Sparks were missing that special something.
He said: “I suppose yesterday we didn’t straight enough, throughout this competition our bowling has been excellent and one of our strengths.
“We’ve looked a good bowling outfit, and I know we’re on slightly different wickets at the minute with the mini heatwave cropping up, so they are maybe a little slower than we’re used to.
“We probably let them get too much of a hold on the game and go at sort of five an over as opposed to three an over.”
Sparks lost Katie George to a slight injury halfway through the Sunrisers’ innings, Tennant admits that was a blow.
“It was a blow losing Katie, she can mix up her bowling and bowl some different deliveries, which certainly would have helped.
“However, we still had enough out there to compete, and we’ve got some great wicket takers in our team, from Baker, Davis and then all the seamers. We just need to know how and when to do certain things, like pushing for wickets or just trying to strangle their middle order a bit.”
Looking ahead to the next game, the Sparks face Western Storm in their penultimate game in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, knowing they need to win and win well.
Tennant added: “It is what it is now, both are crucial games aren’t they, but I guess the positive is that we have no choice and have to win both.
“We must go out there and be on it. So, the players and staff, we have no choice.
“Our aim will be to go in there, be ultra-positive and play some strong cricket.”