After two half-centuries, and a total of 233, Sparks had too much for Thunder, as Lloyd Tennant’s side return to action with a win.
Central Sparks played host to Thunder in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy on Sunday, in a return to action since the conclusion of the Charlotte Edwards Cup.
At New Road in Worcester, the Sparks produced a thoroughly professional performance, seeing them to a 29-run victory of the side from the north west.
After losing the toss and being put into bat first, the Sparks went out with captain Eve Jones and Bethan Ellis who opened the batting.
With Thunder missing Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone due to being on international duty, responsibility fell on the shoulders of young Mahika Gaur to kick things off. Gaur was a thorn in the Sparks’ side when the sides last met, ironically at New Road, and this time it took her near to three overs in to make her mark.
She bowled Ellis out, as the Sparks lost wickets early. Following that, Sparks captain Jones was dismissed and then despite putting up a healthy 17 runs to get the ball rolling, overseas star Erin Burns departed off the bowling of Gaur.
9 overs in, Sparks were three wickets down. This season so far, there haven’t been too many strong partnerships that have gone on to help the Sparks to victory, but this would change. Ami Campbell and Abbey Freeborn held the fort and put up a partnership of 139 runs, which saw both batters get half-centuries.
Campbell’s 50 came off 59 balls, with Freeborn’s coming from 88. The pair batted excellently well, and while the pair were at the crease, Thunder lost their early rhythm and didn’t have an answer until Campbell saw her exit in the 34th over.
Soon after that, Freeborn would depart and the pair would end on (68) and (67) respectively.
Tennant’s side had posted 166 runs as Freeborn left the middle and would go on to produce 233 runs after a fantastic cameo from Charis Pavely, who came out with poise and enthusiasm to score a mature (33) runs.
The ability she showed with the bat was great to see for someone her age, and the runs she scored was a welcome sign to the Sparks to get them near that 250 mark.
The hosts ended on 233 all out, and it was always going to take Thunder a lot to take the win.
Despite a score of (94), Thunder’s Seren Smale couldn’t guide the visitors to victory. She was batting until the 38th over of her side’s innings and performed how you’d expect a batter like Emma Lamb to play, who of course Thunder were also without.
Three wickets from the ever-present Katie George, and two from both Georgia Davis and Bethan Ellis, helped the Sparks to what was a comfortable win in the end.
Ria Fackrell came into the side for the game and took a wicket. As well as taking that wicket she finished on (10 not-out), but what was most impressive about the Sparks’ number 77’s performance was how she fielded and led the team around at times.
Bowlers tend to help the captain set their field for where they want players to be, and when Fackrell bowled her first over, an over in which she helped put pressure on Thunder, she placed her field perfectly to deny the visitors much headway.
Davis is always a consistent bowler for the Sparks and her figures of 2-31, alongside Ellis’ 2-22, added to the big total the side posted, was really what gave the Sparks too much in the end.
Thunder were hitting some big shots and were going for it until the penultimate over, which shows what part they played in the game.
However, despite some missed opportunities in the field, the Sparks cleaned up the away side and won the game by 29 runs, making a great start to the second half of the season, back in the 50 overs competition.