Southern Vipers 203 for 5 (Windsor 57*, Elwiss 50, Kemp 32*, Groves 3-39) beat The Blaze 200 for 8 (Beaumont 76, Smith 3-30) by five wickets
Charlotte Edwards capped a stunning year as her Southern Vipers side became the first to complete the domestic double by defeating Blaze in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final.
Edwards further enhanced her reputation as one of the best coaches in the game, having already claimed the 20-over cup named in her honour against the same opposition in June and adding the 50-over title to the 2023 WIPL and Women’s Hundred trophies she won with Mumbai Indians and Southern Brave. It was Vipers’ third Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title in four years after they went back-to-back in 2020 and 2021.
Windsor survived on 46 when Lucy Higham put down a caught-and-bowled chance and proceeded to bring up her fifty with four off the same bowler before striking the winning runs with another boundary over deep extra cover off Kirstie Gordon.
That Blaze were able to recover from 6 for 2 and latterly 66 for 4 was down to Beaumont’s measured innings of 76 from 104 balls which lifted her side to 154 for 5 before she skied Charlie Dean to Georgia Adams at mid-off after steadying partnerships with the Bryce sisters, Sarah and Kathryn. Gordon’s neat cameo of 21 off 26 balls lifted Blaze to the 200-mark, her slog-swept six off Adams on the penultimate ball of the innings the only maximum of the game.
Gordon combined with Kathryn Bryce to remove Vipers opener Ella McCaughan for an eight-ball duck, running round from mid-off to collect a leading edge which sailed back over the bowler’s head in the second over of the reply. Kathryn Bryce struck again to remove the threat of Maia Bouchier, who had scored 96 for England against Sri Lanka and 64 for Vipers in their crushing 126-run win over Blaze in the final group game of this tournament, pinned lbw by one that looked to be hitting middle and leg for just 2.
At that point, Vipers were faring even worse than their opponents had at 4 for 2 and it would fall to the experience of Adams – the competition’s second-highest run-scoreer – and Elwiss to revive the chase.
Elwiss played the more assertive knock for the most part, while Adams survived a chance on 14 when she chipped Higham to short midwicket, where Gordon got a hand to it but couldn’t hold on and again on 34 when Lizelle Lee dropped what would have been a spectacular catch at square leg, also off Higham.
Adams was 17 not out from 42 balls at the end of the 19th over but she upped the tempo to score 22 off the next 18 balls she faced before Elwiss was caught behind off Groves just moments after bringing up her half-century. Groves struck again with a gem that skidded on to crash into Adams’ stumps to claim two wickets in the space of four balls and firmly swung the momentum Blaze’s way by sneaking another one through Dean’s forward press.
From there, however, Windsor and Kemp took control of the pursuit to complete Vipers’ late-season resurgence. Blaze had been the early pace-setters of the competition, winning their first six completed games, including against Vipers, but then lost three on the trot ahead of their victory over South East Stars in Thursday’s rain-affected play-off at Beckenham. Vipers, on the other hand, lost four of their first seven completed games and tied one, going into the August break for the Hundred in fifth place on the table before storming back to earn direct entry to the final.
Vipers were off to a dream start on this occasion, however, when openers Lee and Marie Kelly fell for 3 and 0 respectively in the same Smith over, the second of the match, and Smith finished as the pick of a strong all-round bowling performance by Vipers with 3 for 30.
Beaumont and Sarah Bryce crept through a 39-run stand off 62 balls before Bryce was bowled by Dean and her wicket was followed closely by that of Georgie Boyce, lbw to Adams.
Beaumont’s 40-run partnership with Kathryn Bryce was ended with Bryce edging Mary Taylor behind to Rhianna Southby but she continued to hold the Blaze innings together. That was until, having almost cut Dean in half with a straight drive for four, she perished to Dean’s next ball, going high and straight to Adams at mid-off.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo