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Match Report provided by ECB Reporters Network.

Amy Jones and Grace Potts proved the gamechangers for Central Sparks as they beat Sunrisers by 23 runs at Chelmsford in the opening game of the 2023 Charlotte Edwards Cup.

England wicketkeeper Jones held Sparks together with a swashbuckling 51 from 34 balls out of a score of 137 all out after they were invited to bat first. Kelly Castle (3-24) and Mady Villiers (3-28) kept the rest of the Sparks in check, the former taking two wickets in successive balls.

Potts (2-13) though proved impossible to get away during the Sunrisers reply and despite a classy half-century from Cordelia Griffith the hosts, who were without oversea ace Dane Van Niekerk because of illness, came up short, Emily Arlott (4-23) cleaning up the tail.

Sunrisers got early joy after deciding to field with Davina Perrin trapped in front for a duck from the last ball of Kate Coppack’ opening over.

Eve Jones threatened briefly, scoring all the first 15 runs off the bat before missing a horrible short ball from Grace Scrivens which crashed into the stumps and Australian all-rounder Erin Burns failed to make the most of being dropped on one when stumped by Amara Carr off the impressive Castle.

And when Ami Campbell was castled by Villiers Sparks’ flame was in danger of being snuffed out at 59-4.

Amy Jones though stood firm, feasting on some short offerings with savage pulls square of the wicket as well as driving crisply through the covers.

At 94-4 a big score looked on, but Castle returned to have Abbey Freeborn stumped by Carr, before Yorking Katie George with the next ball, leaving Arlott to prevent the hat-trick.

Jones moved serenely to 50 only to hole out at mid-off to the very next ball from Villiers after which the tail scrambled to 137.

The hosts looked to Scrivens for a solid start, but the teenager went early, striking one from Potts into the midriff of George at mid-wicket.

George then had a mixed over ball in hand, producing a trio of wides before Lissy Macleod despatched her twice to the fence. George though had the last laugh having Macleod taken at the second attempt down the leg-side by Amy Jones from one that flicked the glove.

Potts turned the screw a little tighter with three overs off the reel in the powerplay to put Sunrisers behind the clock.

Griffith took up the chase to strike England speedster Issy Wong first over mid-wicket and then through mid-off for successive boundaries. Georgia Davis was similarly despatched through cover and when George returned to the attack, she was cut to the fence at third twice in successive balls.

In need of a wicket, Sparks summoned the miserly Potts back to the bowling crease and she delivered, trapping Carr plumb in front, and Villiers didn’t entertain us for long, swinging one from Burns into the hands of George at cow corner.

The double strike caused the rate required to climb with 46 needed from the last five.

Griffith scampered two to reach 50 from 43 balls with six fours, but when she skied one to cover off the bowling of Arlott later in the over the task proved too much for the Sunrisers’ tail.

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