Rockets narrowly win against Phoenix at Trent Bridge
Bryony Smith scored her second fifty in this year’s Hundred to give her Trent Rockets a much-needed win and condemn regional rivals Birmingham Phoenix to another defeat in a miserable few weeks for the West Midlands-based side, who must be wondering what they have to do to win again. They were unable to get over the line once more losing by three runs.
Smith, who has been on the fringes of the England squad, again showed what she is capable of in front of a well-attended Trent Bridge. Opening the batting alongside Lizelle Lee, who she played with for Surrey Stars in the Kia Super League, both players know each other well. In recent matches that has shown, while Lee could only muster three runs today, it has allowed Smith to bat with freedom. A forty-ball 64 resulted in ten fours coming from the bat of Smith and a six over square leg.
England have tried to squeeze Smith in their side, knowing that her tidy off-spin is another string to the all-rounder’s bow; it is a conundrum that England have yet to utilise, and with the likes of Alice Capsey, Mia Bouchier and Sophia Dunkley coming through it feels like Smith’s chance has gone. Although knocks like this will not do her cause any harm.
Phoenix have two players who have been unlucky not to have had more of a part in the England teams in Katie Levick and Emily Arlott. The latter of the two at leasthas had the call-up on a couple of occasions only for illness and injury to deny her higher honours. Introduced into the attack with Rockets on 76 for one, Arlott struck almost immediately as she bowled Nat Sciver-Brunt with her second ball for 18.
It sparked a fightback from Phoenix, as with Smith in full flow, it looked like the visitors would be chasing a score over 150. Arlott also accounted for Harmanpreet Kaur, who has had a disappointing Hundred and was given lbw for five after a successful review. Arlott finished with three for 13; the third wicket was much down to the athleticism of Amy Jones, who instinctively grabbed an edge from Jo Gardner almost behind her.
The other Phoenix bowler who has been unlucky not to have worn England colours, Katie Levick, was the other bowler who came away with any credit as she dismissed the dangerous Smith for 60 with a classic leg-spin wicket as Smith looked to attack a ball that was tossed up and beat the advancing batter with dip and turn.
Phoenix would need 135 to win. It has been a similar target in their most recent matches, and they have been on the losing side on each occasion, and that was to be the case again.
Things started slowly as Sophie Devine and Eve Jones couldn’t get after opening bowlers Alexa Stonehouse and Kathrine Sciver-Brunt. They started steadily, though and at the 41 ball stage, were 47 without loss.
It meant that, once again, the middle-order was tasked with getting the runs flowing. Amy Jones with an unbeaten 46 from 30 balls.
There was an eventful three-ball innings from Arlott, who struck her second ball for six but then ran out the ball after an overthrow as the direct hit from Kathrine Sciver Brunt saw off the batter.
Three boundaries in the penultimate set from Amy Jones got Phoenix back in the game, and it would be up to Merakat Hero of the Match Smith to defend eleven runs from the last five balls; when Sterre Kalis hit the 96th ball for four, it was game on; however, the Dutch international could not get the ball away or Jones back on strike and again it would fall agonisingly close for Phoenix.
The Rocket now need to rely on Welsh Fire messing up at the finish to qualify for the eliminator, but this performance at least gives them a chance while Phoenix will look to their last game to salvage some pride.