One of the new sides in women’s regional cricket, Central Sparks hit the ground running with early victories against Thunder. A win against Northern Diamonds gave them a chance to make it to the final on one of their home grounds Edgbaston.
With Central Sparks players mostly made up of players from Warwickshire and Worcestershire, the West Midlands side certainly have the type of players that can make them a successful team for years to come.
With experienced team members such as Eve Jones, Marie Kelly, Clare Boycott, Gwenan Davies and England wicketkeeper Amy Jones, they will allow the younger players the freedom to improve and bring some flair to the side.
With exciting young players such as Issy Wong, Hannah Baker, Milly Home and Poppy Davies, Central Sparks is one of the teams to watch.
One of the types of cricketers that the regional competitions were designed for was Eve Jones. The Central Sparks captain is 28 and, in the past, that would probably have been an age when talk of an England call-up would have long ago have vanished.
Jones, though, is now one of Central Sparks five professional cricketers, and when she finished her side’s leading run-scorer with 334 runs. It led to questions about why Jones has not been in the running for England. The stylish left-handed opener has seen established players blocking her path for international recognition. Still, maybe it is worth giving someone new ago, and there aren’t many better in the business than Jones.
One to watch
It can only be Issy Wong. The young fast bowler is one of the quickest in the women’s game, and she is a player determined to get faster. At times, the radar isn’t always there, but there is no stopping Wong when she gets it right.
It would take someone brave to bet against her being a regular part of the England side in the next couple of years and, at just 19, once she has won a regular England spot, expect her to be there for years.
How will they fare?
Last season Sparks lost both games to Midlands rivals Lightning, but otherwise, they were competitive in all but one game where they were comprehensively defeated in their first game against Northern Diamonds.
It will be great for Sparks to have Wong around and Sarah Glen, who has had a fine start to her international career. Glenn also had a spell with Perth Scorchers in the WBBL.
If Eve Jones and Marie Kelly bat as we know they can, they will take Central Sparks deep into games. This was evident last season in a game at Edgbaston, on a slow used pitch they ground out a win against Thunder’s experienced bowling attack; Milly Home was able to find her way into the game. Expect more of the same this season.
Opening fixture: 29 May, Northern Diamonds, Headingley