Nat Sciver-Brunt warms up nicely for Ashes with 96* firing Blaze to victory

The Blaze 212 for 5 (Sciver-Brunt 96*) beat Central Sparks 156 for 6 (A. Jones 55, de Klerk 2-26) by 56 runs

England batter Nat Sciver-Brunt showed she is warming up nicely for this summer’s Ashes with a brutal unbeaten 96 as The Blaze crushed Central Sparks by 56 runs in the Charlotte Edwards Cup in Leicester.

It’s three wins from three in the tournament for Blaze after a powerhouse performance with the bat saw them pile up 212 for 5. Sciver-Brunt led the way with her high-class knock from 50 balls and it was her third-wicket partnership of 94 off 49 with Georgie Boyce that took the game away from Sparks.

The flow of the match never changed after that as accurate bowling restricted Sparks to 156 for 6. Sciver-Brunt’s England team-mate Amy Jones made a sprightly 55 but Kirstie Gordon’s 1 for 19 from her four overs and Lucy Higham’s 1 for 12 off three kept a brake on the scoring while Nadine de Klerk picked up 2 for 26.

Blaze were put in but imposed themselves from the start. Tammy Beaumont chipped the fourth ball of the innings over mid-wicket for six and former Sparks batter Marie Kelly struck three successive fours in the second over.

The openers added 35 in four overs but then fell in the space of three balls. Grace Potts bowled Beaumont through a quixotic ramp and Kelly chipped Georgia Davis’s second ball to mid-off.

Sciver-Brunt and Boyce were sooner scoring rapidly against bowling which offered them too much width. The former greeted Hannah Baker into the attack with a sweet six over long-off on the way to a 28-ball half-century.

Issy Wong broke through with a slower ball that bowled Boyce but Kathryn Bryce and Sarah Glenn batted brightly for a brief time to offer Sciver-Brunt valuable support and keep the momentum high.

With 200 on the board already, the question going into the last over was whether the England star could reach 100. She began the over on 90 and hit the first ball for four, her 15th to go with two sixes, but then lost the strike for three of the last four balls.

Under immense scoreboard pressure, Sparks lost Bethan Ellis in the third over when she chipped Higham to mid-off. Higham conceding just four runs from two overs to deny the Sparks the flying start they desperately needed.

Skipper Eve Jones’s quest for rhythm was not helped by facing just 16 balls in nine overs and when she lifted de Klerk to long-on, she departed with her side needing 147 from 11 overs.

Amy Jones struck seven fours and two sixes but when she fell lbw slog-sweeping, Sparks were left needing a miracle. Erin Burns departed in similar fashion to Gordon and the visitors entered the last five overs requiring 102. Abi Freeborn struck three fours in the first of those overs but, even then, the over came in well short of the required amount and, in glorious sunshine, Blaze cruised to victory.

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