Central Sparks v Northern Diamonds
Charlotte Edwards Cup
Tuesday May 23, 2023, 11am
Toss: Central Sparks won it and elected to bowl.
Teams: Sparks – Eve Jones c, Davina Perrin, Amy Jones w, Erin Burns, Ami Campbell, Abbey Freeborn, Katie George, Emily Arlott, Issy Wong, Georgia Davis, Grace Potts.
Diamonds – Lauren Winfield-Hill, Leah Dobson, Hollie Armitage c, Sterre Kalis, Bess Heath w, Chloe Tryon, Katherine Fraser, Abi Glen, Lizzie Scott, Katie Levick, Grace Hall.
Match summary: The Northern Diamonds continued their winning start to the Charlotte Edwards Cup, beating Central Sparks at Edgbaston in a low-scoring thriller. The Diamonds, who recovered from losing nine wickets for 62 in 135, squeezed the home side’s batting on a used surface before Chloe Tryon defended 13 off the last over with four wickets remaining to win by three runs. The Diamonds are now two wins from two in the early stages of this T20 campaign. Leah Dobson top-scored with 41 at the top of the order and Tryon claimed three wickets with her left-arm spin.
Report: This victory, in front of 1,500 school children invited to watch at Edgbaston, was in complete contrast to Friday’s opening night win over Western Storm in a Headingley run fest, and it was a fixture which swung back and forth.
Runs were at a premium on the same surface used for Saturday’s Vitality Blast men’s Blast Off even when two matches were played, including Yorkshire v Birmingham Bears.
The Diamonds lost their way against spin as they were bowled out for 135 in the 20th over. However, they battled back brilliantly with the ball and in the field.
Abbey Freeborn then hit four fours off the otherwise fabulous Lizzie Scott as 20 came from the 18th over to revive the hosts and take them to 118-6 with two overs left. Scott had previously bowled three overs for 11 runs against the Sparks top order, including England’s Amy Jones.
Katie Levick (1-21 from four) then conceded only five runs in the 19th over before Tryon’s left-arm spin did the trick in the last, the South African finishing with 3-30.
She had earlier bowled Amy Jones for 16 off her pad and had Australian Erin Burns caught in the deep before removing Katie George caught at short third in the last over.
Issy Wong hit the last ball for six, but 10 were needed.
No bowler in blue was taken to task aside from the lone Scott over, and they were backed up expertly in the field.
It fitted the cliche of a ‘team performance’ to a tee after off-spinners Georgia Davis and Burns had returned 3-13 and 2-28 from their respective four-over spells.
The Diamonds innings was a tale of two halves, superb in the first and not so in the second as they relinquished control of a contest played out on a pitch which held up.
Lauren Winfield-Hill fell early for a four-ball duck, caught in the covers aiming a cut at Emily Arlott’s first ball in the second over.
But Dobson and captain Hollie Armitage (29) got things moving quickly by sharing 68 inside eight overs for the second wicket.
Dobson was the aggressor, greeting England quick Wong’s introduction with a pair of boundaries in her first over before pulling George for six over deep square-leg as the score moved to 56-1 in the seventh over.
However, when Dobson, who had hit well square on the leg-side, was bowled playing to leg against the off-spin of Davis – 73-2 in the ninth – it sparked a damaging collapse which decisively turned the game.
That is not to throw the blame on Dobson, with others falling to miscues as timing was hard to find on a tricky surface.
Katherine Fraser’s entertaining 26 off 25 balls from number seven – she was strong down the ground – proved the only other score above 20 in an innings which looked more likely to be north of 160.
Davis added the key scalps of Sterre Kalis and Tryon, while Australian all-rounder Burns impressed with her off-spin. Seamer Arlott also finished with two.
However, the Diamonds made a tidy start to their defence of 136, Fraser taking the new ball with her off-spin and striking in the third over to get Davina Perrin caught at mid-off, leaving the score at 10-1.
They then continued to build pressure, limiting the boundaries expertly with tight bowling and good field placing.
And when Tryon’s left-arm spin accounted for the wicket of England’s Amy Jones, bowled off her pad for 16, the Sparks were labouring at 40-2 in the ninth. That soon became 53-2 after 10 overs, 83 more needed.
The other Jones, captain Eve, then slog swept Levick’s leg-spin out to deep mid-wicket for 30, where Dobson took a good running catch. And at 57-3 after 11 overs, the pendulum had swung again.
That thought was strengthened when Burns holed out to Winfield-Hill at long-on, slog sweeping against Tryon – 64-4 in the 13th. From there, it looked a long way home for the Sparks.
Grace Hall got former Diamond Ami Campbell caught at cover by Armitage – 76-5 in the 15th – before a counter-attacking stand of 38 inside four between Freeborn (22) and Arlott (28 not out) was dominated by the former.
She holed out off Scott to turn the game once more before cutting the same bowler to point. Levick and Tryon then closed things out expertly.
Magic moment: Tryon bowling England wicketkeeper batter Amy Jones for 16 with a beautifully flighted delivery which deflected off the batter’s pad onto the stumps, leaving the Sparks at 40-2 in the ninth over of their chase.
Turning point: You could say the final over was the turning point as Tryon defended 13, but the good work with the ball and in the field at the start of the defence gave the Diamonds a chance to win following that damaging collapse with the bat. They just didn’t allow the Sparks to gain any kind of momentum early on a sluggish pitch.
Stat of the match: Amidst all the drama late on, it would be easy to gloss over the contributions of young guns Fraser and Hall, who returned 1-17 and 1-18 from their respectively three-over spells. This was a particularly good day for Fraser following her 26 with the bat.
What they said – Chloe Tryon: “With the way we started, we felt we could have put more runs on the board. But Katherine Fraser did really well at the back end to get us to a really competitive total.
“We knew it was going to be tough, but we stayed in it right until the end and got the win.
“That second half, we knew it was going to be really important to restrict them in the first six overs. And we did that brilliantly. We kept on taking wickets at key intervals, which was really good.
“Hollie said at the end that she felt the team who remained the calmest would come through, and that’s what we did.
“I was put on the spot with that last over! No, seriously, with only three fielders out it can go either way. I just tried to keep it quite simple, and I’m happy I could get the team over the line.”
What’s next: The Diamonds travel to the Kia Oval on Friday afternoon to tackle the South East Stars (1.45pm). It’s the first part of a T20 double header with Surrey’s men, who face Kent in the evening in the Vitality Blast. The Stars have lost both of their opening games.