CENTRAL Sparks suffered a six-wicket defeat to Southern Vipers in the final of the Charlotte Edwards Cup having claimed a thrilling semi-final win against South East Stars in the last over.
Sparks struggled to 109-8 from their 20 overs in the final as the Vipers eased to the required total in 15.5 overs with six wickets in-hand.
That came after Sparks clinched their place in the showpiece with a two-wicket win against South East Stars as Emily Arlott hit the winning runs with just five balls remaining at the County Ground in Northampton.
Sparks had Issy Wong and Grace Potts to thank for their semi-final success as the pair ripped through Stars’ top order with some expert bowling.
Wong (2-8) claimed the wickets of Stars’ openers Bryony Smith and Aylish Cranstone for nought before Potts (3-20) had Sophia Dunkley (5) caught and bowled Alice Capsey (6) to leave their opponents stunned on 15-4.
And Potts third and final victim was Phoebe Franklin (9) to put Sparks in complete control with Stars on 25-5 at the end of the sixth over.
However, Stars finally managed to put some runs on the board as Alice Davidson-Richards (29) and Kalea Moore (34) put on 60 for the sixth wicket with Sarah Glenn bowling the former and the latter caught off the bowling of Arlott.
Emma Jones finished on 13 not out to leave Sparks in chase of 105 to win and book their place in the final.
And Sparks looked well-placed for victory as openers Eve Jones (29) and Wong (11) put on 34 for the first wicket.
However, Amy Jones’s dismissal for 17 sparked a dramatic collapse as Sparks slipped from 59-2 to 69-5 with Ami Campbell (1) and Gwenan Davies (2) both quick to depart.
Further wickets fell as Sparks middle order all failed to reach double figures – Davina Perrin (7), Abigail Freeborn (9) and Sarah Glenn (8).
That left Sparks in need of seven runs with two wickets and 14 balls remaining but an impressive knock of 16 not out from Arlott helped Sparks into the final for the first time.
However, Sparks were unable to put their batting woes behind them in the final and lost openers E Jones (6) and Wong (2) to leave them on 16-2 in the fourth over.
A Jones, who was named Player of the Tournament, fired 27 off 23 balls and was supported by Freeborn (18) as Sparks rallied to 59-4 and then 61-5 after Campbell was run out for seven.
Another solid partnership from Davies (12) and Glenn (16) took Sparks to 87-6 before Arlott added seven whilst Davina Perrin finished on 14 not out to leave Sparks on 109-8 at the end of their innings.
Sparks needed a superb bowling display to claim the trophy and made the perfect start when Wong had Georgia Adams caught for nought in the first over.
However, a quickfire 20 off just 10 balls from Danni Wyatt and 32 from Maia Bouchier put the Vipers in command with both batters falling victim to Arlott (2-28).
And despite Glenn (1-20) trapping Georgia Elwiss (3), Ella McCaughan’s 30 not out proved decisive as the Vipers reached the required total with 25 balls remaining.
Central Sparks captain Eve Jones said: “We were really chuffed we got to the final. It was one of our aims before the competition started to make finals’ day. So, we’re really proud of the girls for getting this far.
“We’re obviously disappointed on the day that we couldn’t quite get over the line but congratulations to Southern Vipers. They’ve had a really good tournament, they’ve gone undefeated, so, they fully deserve it.
“We had a rough figure of 140, 150 in our heads that we thought we could defend. I think runs on the board in a final is is a good thing.
“The semi-final didn’t quite go to plan, but we managed to scrape through, we were chuffed to get to the final but obviously we didn’t quite bat to our potential in the final.
“Our bowlers bowled amazingly in the semi-final. They’ve been really good for us this season. Grace Potts and Issy Wong both bowled really exceptionally and it was great to see them do that
“We didn’t quite back it up with the bat, but we did manage to scrape over the line.
“Amy has been unbelievable for us, both with the bat and with the gloves. It’s great to have her around for the full competition.
“She’s been a key player for us and hopefully, we might have her for a few Rachael Heyhoe Flint games.”