In the opening game of the 2023 season, the Central Sparks faced The Blaze in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Trent Bridge.
After a trio of wickets from Emily Arlott, Grace Potts and Georgia Davis, the Sparks made a great start to the game. Before a great bowling display by Lucy Higham saw the Blaze to victory in the second innings.
In the Nottingham sunshine, Issy Wong opened bowling for the Sparks after losing the toss. Soon after, Emily Arlott got the visitors their first wicket of the day, seeing off Marie Kelly.
It was down to The Blaze’s Tammy Beaumont to take the reins and charge forward for the hosts, and she did just that by reaching the half century mark before being dismissed by Davis. Who, after Potts, had three wickets in the game. Davis also saw off Harmer and de Klerk, while Potts took the wickets of Kathryn and Sarah Bryce & Boyce.
The Blaze’s innings was a cruise before the whirlwind of Sparks wickets fell, and it seemed like Lloyd Tennant’s side had the upper hand. It seemed as if it’d be a day for seam bowlers when the Sparks number nine joined Arlott in on the act, however Davis’ wickets showed that the Blaze were not ready for the spin.
After a fiery start, The Blaze cooled down and were tamed by the Central Sparks attack. An impressive 60 from Beaumont, and a good stint at the crease for Sarah Glenn saw out the hosts’ innings before the interval.
Upon the restart, captain Eve Jones was joined in the middle by Wong, as the Sparks looked to chase the Blaze’s total of 212 to win. Wong collected 22 runs, hitting three nice boundaries before being dismissed. Chloe Brewer and Jones were the next dominos to fall for the Sparks, as Abbey Freeborn and Ami Campbell tried to chase the 213 total, creating a strong partnership until Campbell was caught out by Higham.
Unfortunately, Blaze number seven, Higham played very well, and picked up a five-year of wickets. These proved too much for the Sparks as she took out Jones, Freeborn, Campbell and Arlott.
A brilliant performance in the field by the Sparks, couldn’t quite be translated to the crease as they are narrowly defeated in the first Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy game of the season.
With the first game over for the Sparks, Tennant’s team will look to bounce back as they face a home game against the Northern Diamonds on Saturday 29 April.