Pipped to be the favourites of the North Group, Central Sparks didn’t start off as expected. The opening match of the competition was held at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, as the Central Sparks took on The Northern Diamonds. Packed with experienced England Internationals like Katherine Brunt, Nat Sciver and Lauren Winfield as well as ex England Internationals like Beth Langston and Jenny Gunn, The Northern Diamonds bowled the Central Sparks out for just 144, Gwen Davies top scoring with 33. Not only did the experience of their line up shine through in their bowling attack, The Northern Diamonds then chased the total down having only lost one wicket to secure the win in just 24 overs.
After being knocked down heavily two days prior, the Central Sparks had to dust themselves off and go again. This time to take on Lancashire Thunder at Edgbaston. Raring to go and firing out of the blocks, Issy Wong took 3 for 26 in her 10 overs, as her side bowled Lancashire out for 135. After a slight wobble at the top of the order the Central Sparks secured their first win at home. Moving across to their second home at New Road, Worcester – Central Sparks were able to make it 2 from 2 against Lancashire Thunder as this time, they posted a more comprehensive win by 8 wickets, thanks to a first wicket stand of 113 from the opening pair of Gwen Davies and Eve Jones.
The second game at New Road, saw Central Sparks in a last over thriller vs Loughborough Lightning, which unfortunately saw them on the losing end by 6 runs. Despite a good 50 from Gwen Davies, the lower order of the Central Sparks weren’t able get them over the line. The penultimate game of the competition saw the Central Sparks travel north for their second match vs The Northern Diamonds, this time with all England Cricketers missing and in Loughborough on a training camp, which included Amy Jones and Issy Wong from the Central Sparks - it was a battle of the best domestic cricketers. Winning the toss, Central Sparks captain Eve Jones elected to bowl first and put the Northern Diamonds in to bat. After 50 overs, The Northern Diamonds were bowled out for 217. A competitive score on a very good pitch, The Central Sparks were going to have to work hard. Leading from the front, Eve Jones scores a classy 77 at the top of the order to give the lower order a platform to build on, in which they did. Thanks to a well worked 31 from Poppy Davies and a quick fire 23 from Chloe Hill, the Central Sparks clinched the win in the 47th over.
Going in to the last game of the group stages, which is on Saturday the 19th, it is all to play for. If Central Sparks clinch the win vs Loughborough Lightning with a bonus point, and Lancashire Thunder beat The Northern Diamonds, The Central Sparks will find themselves in the Final at Edgbaston vs The Southern Vipers on the 27th of September. With the return of Issy Wong from the England Training Bubble, The Central Sparks will be hoping to post a comprehensive win against Loughborough Lightning away at Grace Road Leicester, and pray for a red rose win at Headingley!
Gwen Davies, Comments: “It’s been great to finally get out on the park and play some cricket, after a long wait in lockdown. A huge thanks has to go to everyone that has been involved behind the scenes, especially Laura Macleod, who has worked tirelessly to make sure that this competition has been allowed to happen. It has been very different in training and in matches, with the very close monitoring of health and social distancing, but it’s good to be back. Fingers crossed the results go our way this weekend, and we can play in the final at home on the 27th.”