Charlotte Edwards Cup Final Match Report: South East Stars v Blaze

Charlotte Edwards Cup Final Match Report: South East Stars v Blaze

Not for the first time, it was the Bryce Sisters that helped The Blaze to a win. Given the venue, the unbroken partnership of a hundred at Lord’s against Sunrisers was remarkable. However, to do it in a final was even more monumental for the pair, as they helped The Blaze lift their first silverware at Derby today, beating South East Stars by seven wickets with eight balls to spare.

When the sisters were reunited in the middle, The Blaze were 37 for two, and those finals day nerves must have been setting in again. Kathryn Bryce has been in fine form during this year’s tournament having scored four fifties since her return from international duty, where Scotland qualified for this year’s T20 World Cup.   

The senior Bryce raced to her fifth fifty from just 31 balls as the Stars could not contain the Scots who, with the run rate falling after every over, were able to milk runs against a tiring fielding side. The Blaze game plan was working a treat. 

The Blaze have been the most consistent T20 team in the Charlotte Edwards Cup over the past two seasons since their move to Trent Bridge. They reached their third Final in a row, having also been losing finalists in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and faced a South East Stars side who had just knocked out the reigning champions Southern Vipers by five runs in the second semi-final at Derby. 

The Stars had beaten The Blaze at the same venue last Sunday and were confident of a repeat performance today. Finals are a different beast, and The Blaze stuck to the formula that had seen their side win nine of the ten group games by bowling first and making the batting team make mistakes. 

The young leg-spinner Joise Groves was to make the most impact with the ball for The Blaze with figures of two for 16 in the semi-final against Central Sparks and also contributed with a quickfire 14 from four balls to seal the victory. 

Groves then showed the skill to take three for 33 in the final. The 19-year-old had captained England under-19s earlier in the year and that sort of maturity helped to have Paige Scholfield (7) and Sophia Dunkley (16) stumped by the quick hands of Sarah Bryce behind the stumps. 

South East Stars had started quickly and, at the end of the first over, were 18 without loss. Bryony Smith, who made one of her few England appearances at Derby, was determined to score runs. She didn’t account for just how much Blaze captain Kirstie Gordon wanted to take her wicket, and with her third ball of the game, she made the breakthrough as she had her opposing captain trapped lbw for 17. 

The Stars’ top order have destructive batters in their ranks and The Blaze knew they couldn’t let them profit from decent starts. Only Scholfield in the top seven didn’t reach double figures, but only Georgia Redmayne and Alice Davidson-Richards made it past 20. Redmayne looked impressive as she top-scored with a run a ball 25, but the Stars’ innings ended with them 141 for nine, a score that The Blaze needed one fewer to reach the final earlier in the day and they were confident of doing so again in the Final. 

With the Bryces in full flow, the Stars would need to make a breakthrough, which the ever-reliable Dani Gregory did, bowling Kathryn Bryce for 62 and ending a third-wicket partnership of 79 runs from 63 balls. 

The Stars had managed to contain the Southern Vipers in the later stages when their opponents looked like they could just edge it.  They couldn’t quite turn things back in their favour as Sarah Bryce was keen to join her sister in scoring a fifty in the most important match of their Blaze career. It was at a more sedate pace than her big sister, but coming from just 45 balls, it was just as important, scoring an unbeaten 53 before Heather Graham smashed the winning runs to give the East Midlands a night to remember. 


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