Kathryn Bryce steers The Blaze to semi-final triumph

Kathryn Bryce of The Blaze bats during the Charlotte Edwards Cup Semi Final match between The Blaze and Central Sparks at The County Ground on June 22, 2024 in Derby, England.
Kathryn Bryce anchors The Blaze to victory in the Charlotte Edwards Cup semi-final [Getty Images]

Charlotte Edwards Cup semi-final, County Ground, Derby

Central Sparks 140-9 (20 overs): Webb 45* (31); Groves 2-16

The Blaze: 142-5 (18 overs): K. Bryce 44 (39); Baker 3-24

The Blaze win by five wickets

Match scorecard

Kathryn Bryce hit 44 to steer The Blaze into the Charlotte Edwards Cup final for the second successive season with victory over Central Sparks.

The Scotland captain anchored the East Midlands side’s response to the Sparks, who had posted a competitive 140-9, their highest total in three meetings between the teams this season.

Leg-spinner Josie Groves had slowed an early Sparks charge after Amy Campbell and 17-year-old Davina Perrin had given them a great powerplay, before Courtney Webb’s unbeaten 45 ensured The Blaze would have to sweat for a win.

The side that topped the group standings with nine wins from 10 were pegged back by Hannah Baker’s haul of 3-24 but Kathryn Bryce had broken the back of the run chase before she became Baker’s third victim.

Sparks had struggled to amass enough runs in both their defeats by Blaze in the group stages, so it was no great surprise that they began aggressively, with Campbell and Perrin taking the fight to the opposition bowlers.

Blaze have dominated the competition this season with nine wins from 10 games in the group stage, and they held their nerve, Kirstie Gordon having Campbell caught at long-on and Grace Ballinger knocking over Perrin’s off-stump after the 17-year-old had scored a valiant 32 off 19 balls.

Highest score

That gave Sparks a good foundation but the Blaze continued to chip away with wickets, slowing the scoring rate with leg-spinner Groves in particular catching the eye as she removed Katie George and Charis Pavely at a cost of 16 runs in her four overs.

Australian all-rounder Webb picked up the standard for Sparks with an enterprising unbeaten 45 that ensured they recorded their highest score in the three meetings with Blaze this summer.

In the end that total was simply not enough despite Sparks fighting hard throughout the innings and taking wickets frequently enough to keep it interesting.

Blaze have won all five matches in which they have batted second this summer, and that breeds the kind of confidence that was evident in the way they kept the scoring rate ticking over.

Leg-spinner Hannah Baker did her best to disrupt the flow, removing Marie Kelly - who scored 89 not out against them in midweek - cheaply, and then removing both Kathryn Bryce and her sister Sarah.

By then the game was up as Kathryn Bryce and opener Tammy Beaumont, who rattled up 39 off 31 balls, shared a stand of 58 for the second wicket to establish a firm basis for the chase.

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