1 May 2023 | Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy 2023
Central Sparks
184 for 7
Southern Vipers
183 for 9
Southern Vipers win by 3 wickets

Words by Brian Halford, ECB Reporters Network

Southern Vipers captain Georgia Adams starred with bat and ball to power her side to a three-wicket Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy victory over Central Sparks at Wormsley.

Adams took four for 30 in Sparks’ total of 183 for nine and then made a composed 50 (71 balls) as her side reached 184 for seven with 49 balls to spare.

After Sparks were put in, their innings was a staccato affair. Despite impressive knocks from Ami Campbell (54, 76 balls) and Abbey Freeborn (43, 96 balls), they never truly escaped the shackles of tight collective bowling led by Adams (four for 30) and Charlie Dean (one for 28 from ten overs).

When Vipers’ reply dipped to 46 for four in the 15th over, they were under severe pressure, but Adams and Dean (42, 54) added 105 in 19 overs to take their side to the brink of a second successive victory.

Sparks were left nursing a second defeat in their first three games and could reflect that delivering 21 wides cost them dear in a low-scoring match.

With the pitch freshened up by a torrential downpour, Vipers chose to bowl and struck with the eighth ball when Dean accepted a simple return catch from Chloe Brewer.

Eve Jones (34, 65 balls) and Freeborn rebuilt with a stand of 56 in 18 overs before Georgia Elwiss struck twice in three balls. If the lbw decision that dispatched Jones was highly debatable, there was no doubt about the departure of Davina Perrin whose middle stump was left leaning at a lazy angle.

Freeborn built another solid partnership – 61 in 15 overs – with Campbell but Vipers’ bowlers always made the batters work hard for runs. Adams collected her first wicket when she accepted a return catch from Freeborn.

Katie George worked the ball around sweetly for 23 (28 balls) but her dismissal by a superb piece of work in the field proved the pivotal moment of the match. George ladled Alice Monaghan to deep square leg where Maia Bouchier took a brilliant catch on the run and the value of that catch proved huge as the innings lost all momentum from that point.

The last seven overs brought just 22 runs for five wickets as the Sparks slumped from a relatively healthy 161 for four to 183 for nine. Adams ended Campbell’s resistance thanks to a smart catch from Linsey Smith and bowled the dangerous Issy Wong second ball. Lauren Bell added the wicket of Emily Arlott who nicked to wicketkeeper Rhianna Southby as the Vipers snuffed out the innings with great efficiency.

Sparks’ bowlers needed to make early inroads and they did. Arlott had Ella McCaughan caught at short fine leg from the fourth ball and added the big wicket of Elwiss in a bristling opening spell of 6-0-12-2. Danni Wyatt chipped Wong to mid-wicket and when George hit middle stump to uproot Maia Boucher (25,39), Vipers were 46 for four and vulnerable.

Adams and Dean batted with great composure to take their side within 23 of victory. Both perished in successive overs, Adams bowled by Hannah Baker and Dean caught behind off George, but Emily Windsor and Southby calmly saw Vipers home.