Blaze 193 for 7 (Sciver-Brunt 66*, Lee 40) beat Central Sparks 189 (Ellis 53, George 50, Groves 3-39) by 3 wickets
The Blaze fought off closest pursuers Central Sparks in an engrossing match at Edgbaston to record a three-wicket win and strengthen their position at the top of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy table.
The league leaders bowled Sparks out for 189 as only Bethan Ellis (53) and Katie George (50) passed 15 for the home side. A tight Blaze bowling display was led by Josie Groves (three for 39) as they exploited the turning wicket and some ill-judged shots.
After choosing to bat, Sparks struggled to 38 for three in the 12th over. Kathryn Bryce took the big wicket of Eve Jones who was tempted into playing away from her body and edged to gully. Abbey Freeborn nicked Sophie Munro behind and New Zealand international Maddy Green chipped Grace Ballinger to mid-off to bag a debut duck.
Ami Campbell started purposefully (11 from ten balls) but when she chipped Lucy Higham to mid-wicket, Sparks were 66 for four. The resolute Ellis at last found some support from the more forceful George and the fifth-wicket pair rebuilt carefully. However, they fell in successive overs; Ellis lbw to Kathryn Bryce and George lbw to Groves, who then added two more quick wickets courtesy of careless chips into the infield as the last six wickets tumbled for 40 in 15 overs.
Lee and Tammy Beaumont took just 34 balls to wipe off that 40 in a thunderous start, including six fours from ten balls across the third and fourth overs. Lee’s 40 included nine fours before she lifted a drive at George to cover.
Beaumont smote the only six of the match, over mid-wicket off George, but when she ambled a single and was run out by Charis Pavely’s throw, the innings went into decline against the spinners. Five wickets fell in six overs as sharp return catches by Davis removed the Bryce sisters and Baker bowled Georgie Boyce and Munro.
A diligent stand of 40 in 11 overs between Sciver-Brunt and Higham ended when the latter fell to a stunning catch by Green at mid-wicket. That left Sciver-Brunt with 59 to find with the lower order and, with plenty of overs in the bank, she did it perfectly, reaching a 57-ball half-century in an unbroken stand of 62 in 90 balls with skipper Kirstie Gordon, who finished 15 not out.