Erin Burns rescued Birmingham Phoenix with an innings of 38 from 26 balls. It was at a time when Trent Rockets were firmly on top, taking wickets at regular intervals and with 71 for six – there only seemed one winner.
However, that may have been a bit unfair on the Phoenix lower order, who had the luxury of Georgia Elwiss entering the fray at nine. Nevertheless, it was a comfortable win for Phoenix, who won by three wickets with six balls to spare. It keeps their slim chances of finishing in the top three still possible and takes Trent Rockets’ fate out of their own hands.
Sammy-Jo Johnson and Rachel Priest set a good platform for the Rockets, who were asked to bat after Amy Jones won the toss.
The main problem that Trent Rockets have faced this season is getting their batting order right. Katherine Brunt, batting at four, has found it difficult to get going just when the Rockets have needed to keep the runs flowing.
Heather Graham and Abbey Freeborn were tasked with picking things up, and they shared their fifty partnership from just 36 balls. After Nat Sciver, the Rockets’ leading run-scorer, was run out for a run a ball 17 just when she was starting to get into her groove.
The 26 from Graham and Freeborn’s 30, both from 23 balls, allowed Rockets to post 125 for 7. The main tormentor for the home side was Kirstie Gordon, who herself has played a lot of her cricket in the East Midlands; the left-arm spinner returned figures of three for 26 on international left-handers’ day.
It felt like a slightly under-par score at the break, and with a well-drilled Trent Rockets bowling attack, it would be difficult for Birmingham Phoenix if they lost early wickets.
Eve Jones and Shafali Verma looked comfortable when it was their turn to bat, but as the summer has proven, the duel with Brunt and Verma was showing no signs of disappearing – and it was Brunt who won the battle again.
By this stage, Verma had moved onto 16 from 8 balls when she tried to smash a Brunt slower ball out of the park, only to find the fielder at deep midwicket.
Rockets were back on top, and Eve Jones and Amy Jones had to dig in. They fell within nine balls of each other to leave Phoenix on 58 for four. With Gwen Davies was caught behind by Priest, to give Sarah Glenn her only wicket of the day; it was starting to look grim for the away side.
Erin Burns didn’t give up the fight and started to find the boundaries square of the wicket. Johnson, who took three wickets for 22 runs, almost turned the game when she had Burns caught in the deep for 38. But, by that time, the game was as good as belonging to Phoenix.
Phoenix match-winner Erin Burns, who top-scored with 38, said:
“It was a pretty good pitch and we felt like we had good plans that didn’t come off and there was a bit of panic in the middle order but Emily can hit the ball hard and we felt if we stayed calm we could get the runs. I’ve been pretty happy with my last two innings and happy to contribute with bat and ball today.
“We were pretty happy with the way we bowled. I believe the last two overs only went for seven runs and that last set from Kirstie Gordon was outstanding. What has been so impressive about her is that a couple of times she has not had the greatest start and gone for a few in the Powerplay but then she has come back and bowled like a champion.
“So we felt their total had been 15 or so under par. With the quick outfield here it was a score we believed we could chase down.
“We need a couple of results to go our way but we are still in there fighting.”