Northern Diamonds v The Blaze 

Charlotte Edwards Cup

Friday June 2, 2023, 2.30pm 

The Seat Unique Riverside

Toss: Diamonds won it and elected to bat. 

Teams – Diamonds: Lauren Winfield-Hill, Leah Dobson, Hollie Armitage c, Sterre Kalis, Bess Heath w, Chloe Tryon, Katherine Fraser, Lizzie Scott, Abi Glen, Katie Levick, Grace Hall. 

Blaze: Marie Kelly, Michaela Kirk, Georgie Boyce, Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Bryce w, Nadine de Klerk, Josie Groves, Lucy Higham, Sophie Munro, Kirstie Gordon c, Grace Ballinger.

Match summary: The Northern Diamonds still have work to do to secure a top-three berth in the group table and a place at next Saturday’s Finals Day after losing their first match of the competition to league leaders the Blaze, who comfortably chased down 130 thanks to opener Sarah Bryce’s unbeaten 67 off 43 balls, winning by six wickets. 

Report: The Diamonds lost their first match in five in the Charlotte Edwards Cup, ending a run of four straight victories. 

The winner of this table-topping clash would seal a place at Finals day at New Road in eight days. But, unfortunately, it was the Blaze and not the Diamonds after a slick performance with ball and bat. 

They limited the Diamonds to 129-7 on a sluggish Riverside surface, including Lauren Winfield-Hill’s 40 off 47 balls. South African seamer Nadine de Klerk claimed 3-31 from four overs. 

The Blaze then raced to their target, winning with 4.2 overs thanks to Bryce’s exploits – six fours and three sixes. 

The Diamonds remain well placed to reach Finals Day, needing just one win from their remaining two games. 

The Blaze made a tidy start with the ball, preventing the Diamonds from getting any significant momentum in the first 10 overs. Lucy Higham only conceded one run with her off-spin from the first over of the contest before a maiden from left-arm swing bowler Grace Ballinger to follow.

Timing was an issue for the Diamonds openers Winfield-Hill and Leah Dobson, the latter who made 19 before being bowled by former England left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon (33-1 in the seventh over).

The Diamonds reached the 10-over mark at 56-1. 

Despite being unable to break free, the Diamonds were at least able to keep wickets in hand on a pitch lacking the pace of a Headingley for example. 

But, unfortunately, they lost wickets regularly through the second half of the innings to give the Blaze the definite advantage. 

De Klerk claimed three wickets in that period, including Katherine Fraser and Lizzie Scott bowled in the last over.

Winfield-Hill was also bowled by seamer Sophie Munro, while there were only flashes of successful aggression from Bess Heath and Chloe Tryon, with 19 off 12 balls and 18 off 14 respectively.

The Blaze, through opener Sarah Bryce, then flew out of the blocks and reached 57-1 after six overs of powerplay.

A Scott in-swinger accounted for the wicket of Marie Kelly, bowled trying to cut – 28-1 after four – but Bryce hoisted Katie Levick for a pair of sixes over long-on in the next over.

It already felt a long way back for the Diamonds, and Bryce continuing on proved that.

She reached her first fifty of the summer off 30 balls shortly before Tryon bowled Georgie Boyce, leaving the score at 88-2 in the 11th. 

Boyce was actually the first of three wickets to fall for eight runs in nine balls as Abi Glen then bowled Kathryn Bryce and Michaela Kirk to leave herself on a hat-trick in the 12th over. The Blaze were 96-4. But it was just too late to impact the result.  

Magic moment: Abi Glen striking twice in two balls in the 12th over, bowling Kathryn Bryce and Michaela Kirk to leave the score at 96-4. The first wicket, of Bryce, saw middle stump uprooted – the perfect sight for a fast bowler. 

Turning point: The Blaze limiting the Diamonds to just one run from the first two overs of the match set the tone for the league leaders, who were able to build on that impressive start with the ball from Lucy Higham and Grace Ballinger. 

Stat of the match: The Blaze remain the only unbeaten side left in English domestic cricket this season. 

What they said – Coach Dani Hazell: “That’s T20 cricket. Credit to them, they played well. We probably didn’t have enough runs on the board, but equally we could have defended it. We just weren’t quite at the races with the ball.

“But one T20 loss doesn’t define us, and we’ll continue to push the brand of cricket that we want to play.

“Our ambition is still to get to the final and win this competition. That’s not done in the group stages. We’ll turn up on Sunday against the Vipers fresh faced and ready to go.

“Maybe 20 runs more with the bat may have made things interesting, but I don’t think it comes down to that. I just don’t think we were at the races with the ball. 

“We pride ourselves on fighting all the way, and we did.

“There’s not too much to read into from that game. It’s just the fact it’s T20 cricket and they played very well. Hopefully we’ll meet them further down the track.”

What’s next: The Diamonds play their penultimate group fixture against Southern Vipers at Headingley on Sunday (3.30pm), the second part of a T20 double header with Yorkshire’s men. The Vipers – defending champions – are also firmly in the mix for Finals Day qualification. 

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