MATCH REPORT | THE BLAZE v SUNRISERS
Match Report provided by the ECB Reporters Network
Maiden List A centuries for 19-year-old Grace Scrivens and 22-year-old Ariana Dowse in a 200-run record partnership set the platform for a 30-run win for Sunrisers over The Blaze in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Loughborough, where the home side slipped to defeat despite a maiden List A hundred from Georgie Boyce.
Kathryn Bryce made 51, sharing an 113-run stand with Boyce, but skiddy seamer Eva Gray took a career-best four for 31 as The Blaze were dismissed for 265 to keep Sunrisers in with an outside chance of qualifying for next week’s finals thanks to a third straight win.
Having built up a big lead in the early part of the competition, the East Midlands regional side have already qualified for at least the semi-final eliminator.
But three defeats in their last four matches have seen that lead cut to just five points, leaving them at risk of being denied a direct route to the final by Southern Vipers, who they take on at Loughborough in Saturday’s final round group games, in which Sunrisers are away to Northern Diamonds.
Dowse, making only her third appearance for Sunrisers, hit 13 fours and a six in her 110-ball 105, with England Under-19 international Scrivens, who took her aggregate in this year’s competition to 387, making 107 from 136 deliveries with nine fours. Their 37-over partnership is the biggest by runs for any wicket since the 50-overs a side Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy launched in 2020.
The Blaze chose to field but offered too many easy scoring opportunities as Sunrisers reached 47 without loss in the opening powerplay and 112 by the halfway point, Dowse having been first to first to fifty off 61 balls with seven fours before Scrivens joined her with five boundaries from 75.
Soon after Dowse had lofted Kirstie Gordon’s left-arm spin over her head for the first six of the day, the partnership passed the 153 mark set by Ella McCaughan and Georgia Adams for Southern Vipers against Lightning - as The Blaze were then known - at Derby last season as the competition-best for the first wicket.
It went on to eclipse the competition record for any wicket, beating the 186 put on by third-wicket pair Fran Wilson and Orla Prendergast for Western Storm against Thunder in April this year.
Only after that was there any suggestion of a Blaze breakthrough, Dowse well out of her ground on 97 when wicketkeeper Sarah Bryce’s shy for an attempted run-out missed.
The let-off gave Dowse the opportunity to hammer Kathryn Bryce down the ground for her 13th four to bring up what had otherwise been a flawless hundred off 103 balls.
In the event, she fell in the next over, caught at long on off Grace Ballinger, one wicket bringing another for The Blaze as new batter Mady Villiers was caught behind attempting to reverse sweep Lucy Higham’s off-spin. Scrivens completed her century from 127 balls with eight fours.
Seamer Teresa Graves picked up two wickets in an over as The Blaze mounted a fightback of sorts, avenging a six in the previous over by bowling Jo Gardner before beating Scrivens’ reverse sweep for a leg before.
Kathryn Bryce removed Eva Gray via a top-edged sweep but Amara Carr and Florence Miller added 37 off the last 22 balls to set a formidable 296 for The Blaze to win.
That task looked still tougher after Lizelle Lee, leg before to Eva Gray, and Sarah Bryce, bowled when Kate Coppack nipped one away to clip the off bail, were out within the first 25 balls. Marie Kelly, back from a stint with Trinbago Knight Riders in the Women’s Caribbean Premier League, started well but miscued Jodi Grewcock’s leg spin to be caught at extra cover.
Boyce and Kathryn Bryce kept the home side firmly in the hunt by adopting the positive approach that had served Scrivens and Dowse so well, scoring at five an over to add 113 for the fourth wicket. Boyce brought up her half-century from 68 balls with five fours, Bryce getting there in 56 after doubling her boundary tally with three fours in the same Coppack over.
But a decisive breakthrough came when Gray replaced Coppack and trapped Bryce in front with the first ball of her spell, also dismissing Teresa Graves leg before. Boyce pressed on into the 80s but when Josie Groves holed out to long on off Kelly Castle, The Blaze were 205 for six, still 91 short, needing almost eight an over.
Boyce completed her ton from 122 balls with nine fours but after she was run out, Blaze lost their last four wickets for 18 as Higham, Gordon and Sophie Munro, forced to look for boundaries, all found fielders.