Earlier in the season, in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, Headingley produced an exciting finish when Central Sparks chased down a target of 280 to win against Northern. Their Hundred alter-egos, Northern Superchargers, went head to head today, knowing a win for either side would be guaranteed a place in Friday’s eliminator at The Oval.
However, it would be the Midlands side that prevailed yet again, winning by 14 runs.
Birmingham Phoenix lost the toss and were put in to bat. While they lost the early wicket of Shafali Verma for a three-ball eight, Amy Jones, the Phoenix captain, was keen to get to keep the scoreboard moving and her innings of 24 from 11 balls contained six fours.
Once Jones had gotten Phoenix off to a flyer, it was left to another to ensure the momentum was sustained throughout the innings. Eve Jones did just that with her second fifty of the competition.
Jones is one of those players that has spent her career just out of the England reckoning, a left-handed batter who plays proper cricket shots, and she showed just how effective they could be piercing the circle and racing to the boundary. She was also able to loft the ball, clearing the boundary sponges three times.
At the halfway stage, Phoenix were 74 for two and looking to build on a bright start. However, it never really happened, and they could only double their score from there – nearly. That was in part due to the tidy spin bowling of Katie Levick with two for 23, including the crucial wickets of Eve Jones and Katie Mack.
Usually, 147 for four would be cause for celebration for the batting team, but against an impressive lineup from Northern Superchargers, they knew their bowlers would need to fire.
It didn’t quite pan out that way, and Lauren Winfield-Hill, who scored a hundred in that game earlier in the year, was again in full flow – a 38 ball 64 made up for the early loss of Jemimah Rodrigues for one.
Winfield-Hill found support from Laura Wolvaardt, and the pair were determined in their pursuit of the target. Together they added 67 from 43 balls for the second wicket, at times evading the diving fielders.
When both fell within the space of 19 balls, it started to look like certain victory was slipping from their grasp. And so it proved. Eve Jones took the catch to rid the Phoenix of Winfield-Hill to give Issy Wong her first of two wickets.
Up to that point, the Phoenix fielding had been sloppy, and they had put down catches. However, Abtaha Maqsood and Emily Arlott galvanised the Phoenix team even more. They dismissed the two set batters in as many balls; Maqsood had Woolvaart caught at long-on, and next ball Arlott has bowled Laura Kimmince.
With those wickets went any chance of a Superchargers win. They limped towards the finish.
London Spirit are the only team that can level it on points with Phoenix, but they would have to win extraordinarily against Welsh Fire to overtake them.