There was an odd moment at Wantage Road, Northampton, as the loud speakers and Northampton Carnival drowned out fireworks of the cricket while a procession of Central Sparks batters lost their wickets and Southern Vipers took control of the Charlotte Edwards Final.
And they would eventually win by six wickets and 25 balls to spare.
Central Sparks played their second game of the day after their play-off eliminator against South East Stars, a game they tried their best to lose, having reduced Stars to 25 for five in the Powerplay at one stage. However, a two-wicket victory resulted from some late-order batting by Emily Arlott digging her side out of a hole.
Southern Vipers came into the final undefeated in the group stages and were favourites to secure the silverware that bears their coach’s name.
The South Coast side pride themselves in their prowess in the field and their ability to squeeze teams. Having dismissed Sparks’ captain to a well-flighted Charlie Dean delivery, Vipers took the crucial wicket of Issy Wong. Freya Kemp’s second delivery was headed over the head of Maia Bouchier before the fielder improbably stretched her hands around the ball, and Sparks were 20 for two.
Runs were hard to come by, and just as it looked like Amy Jones was going to break the shackles, she became Dean’s second victim of the day, giving Bouchier a more straightforward catch.
The better option may have been to have seen out the over and attack the next with new bowler Georgia Adams into the attack. Dean’s first three overs went for just nine runs. However, Sarah Glen took a liking to her in her fourth over. To finish with two for 19 had put her side in control.
Ami Campbell got bogged down, taking eight balls to get off the mark; the team fifty didn’t appear until the tenth over.
Sparks needed contributions from Glenn and Gwen Davies towards the end, with a decent total looking improbable. However, Glenn threatened before falling for 16 from a superb return catch to Adams.
While 109 for nine was more than they scored in the first game of the day, Sparks knew it would be difficult to stop the juggernaut of Vipers.
Vipers’ top order is full of quality, and it would take another destructive Powerplay for Sparks to get themselves in the game. Having bowled a no-ball in the opening over, Wong got another opportunity to bowl at Adams, and a tumbling Eve Jones plucked the ball out of the air with millimetres from the blades of grass.
Danni Wyatt was dropped in the next over on five by Sarah Glenn at mid-on. Wyatt is the type of player you don’t want to give a second life, and while she added 15 more runs, the damage was done.
Bouchier, with 32 from 25 balls, ensured that the Vipers didn’t get stuck like the Sparks and, along with Ella McCaughan unbeaten on 30 from a run a ball, it was Southern Vipers who crowned the day with victory and took home the cup for Charlotte Edwards.