Bowlers keep Diamonds' bright start intact with narrow win against Sparks
Visitors manage to defend 135 at Edgbaston to hand hosts their first defeat of the tournament
Northern Diamonds 135 (Dobson 41, Davis 3-13) beat Central Sparks 132 for 7 (E. Jones 30, Tryon 3-30) by three runs
Northern Diamonds maintained their 100 percent start to the 2023 Charlotte Edwards Cup with a three-run victory over Central Sparks at Edgbaston.
With both sides having won their first game, something had to give and it was Diamonds who preserved their perfect record thanks principally to an impressive bowling display.
Put in, Diamonds were bowled out for 135, far less than looked likely when they were motoring nicely along at 73 for 1 in the ninth over. The fall of Leah Dobson for 41 off 25 balls was the first of nine wickets to fall for 62 runs in 67 balls as Georgia Davis bowled her off-spin beautifully for 4-0-13-3, well-supported by Emily Arlott and Erin Burns who took two wickets each.
The total looked a little under par but Sparks fell just short on 132 for 7 after their batters never escaped the shackles imposed at the start by accurate opening spells from Lizzie Scott and Katherine Fraser. Chloe Tryon bounced back from conceding 11 in her first over to take three vital wickets and end with 3 for 30.
Only Eve Jones and Arlott passed 25 as tight bowling and a sluggish, used-pitch combined to make run-scoring difficult.
After Sparks chose to bowl, they soon struck a big blow when Lauren Winfield-Hall lifted the seventh ball of the innings, from Arlott, to extra cover.
Dobson and Hollie Armitage responded positively and raised the 50 from 37 balls. Their well-constructed stand stood at 68 from 43 balls when Davis bowled Dobson through an attempted leg-side flick.
That wicket started a big slide as four fell for 19 runs in 23 balls. Davis had Sterre Kalis smartly stumped by Amy Jones, Bess Heath was brilliantly run out by Katie George's direct hit from midwicket and Armitage skied Burns to mid off.
Davis had her third victim when Tryon lofted to deep midwicket and only Fraser kept the innings from complete freefall. Fraser was ninth out when she top-edged a return catch to Burns and the last pair mustered just a single from five balls before Grace Hall was superbly caught by Davina Perrin at point off Arlott.
Diamonds also took an early wicket when Perrin lofted Fraser to mid off and the bowlers applied good pressure as only four fours arrived in the first eight overs. England star Amy Jones was never fluent before she was deceived by a lovely flighted ball from Tryon and bowled off her pads.
Katie Levick cranked up the pressure by conceding just six runs in two overs which also brought the crucial wicket of Eve Jones, caught at midwicket. Burns also fell on the offensive when she was well caught at wide long on by Abi Glen off Tryon.
As the required rate escalated, Sparks, with half their batters out, required 38 from the last 18 balls. Abbey Freeborn struck the first four of those 18 for four to dent Scott's figures but then lifted the fifth ball to point and 13 from the final over, delivered with great composure by Tryon, proved too many.