The Blaze continued their good start to their inaugural season, beating South East Stars by five wickets with four balls to spare at Beckenham in both sides’ first Charlotte Edwards Cup game this year.
Lighting, who The Blaze have taken the place of in the regional set-up, won only one game against Thunder at Leicester a year ago.
While that was a one-off, today was the start of the first of many for The Blaze. Much has been made of The Blaze’s winter signings, Nat Sciver Brunt made her debut today, and Sarah Glenn has settled in well, taking wickets and valuable innings with the bat. However, it was their other new additions that powered them to victory. Nadine de Klerk has been a great signing. Her calm innings in support of top scorer Georgie Boyce ensured no fingers were chewed to the bone as some of their run chases in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy have played out.
Boyce hit an unbeaten 63 from 38 balls with nine fours and a six. A Nottinghamshire-born cricketer who moved from Thunder in the winter after a short loan move at the back end of last season, she never seemed uncomfortable in the chase. A batter that can hit the ball cleanly as any has in the past had a tendency to get stuck in similar situations,
Tammy Beaumont had set up The Blaze innings with a 31-ball 48 that put her side firmly in control of a run chase of 161. Beaumont looked more still at the crease than in the past, and there was only one attempted paddle shot. With some real competition for opening spots in the Ashes squad, it hits that she is trying to ensure she sees off any newcomers, especially with a five-day test at Trent Bridge in the mix.
A slight wobble in the middle order from The Blaze hinted that the chase might not be straightforward yet again when Sciver-Brunt was caught in the deep by Tash Farrant to make the score 69 for two. It was Paige Scofield’s second wicket of the game.
160 for eight looked like a competitive score for the Stars, who were asked to bat first after Kirstie Gordon won the toss and elected to field.
They had been reduced to 48 for four in the seventh over, Gordon, Grace Ballenger, Sciver-Brunt and Glenn sharing the wickets.
A fifth-wicket partnership of 68 from Phoebe Franklin (58) and Kira Chathli (24) rescued the innings as their more illustrious top order found inventive ways of losing their wickets. It allowed Alice Davidson-Richards to blast 24 from 13 balls and suggested that she was batting too low in the order. Had de Klerk not taken two wickets in two balls from the final over of the Stars innings the momentum might have stayed with the home team.
With fixtures coming thick and fast before finals day in three weeks, South East Stars will still fancy their chances of going far in the competition. In contrast, The Blaze will be looking to keep the momentum going as the winning ways continue.