Sparks 136 for 6 (Kelly 59*) beat Thunder 135 (Cross 45, Wong 3-26) by four wickets
Central Sparks secured their first win of the tournament against North West Thunder by 4 wickets, thanks to an all-round performance, especially from the bowlers that saw them chase down 136 in 44 overs.
Thunder won the toss and elected to bat, but couldn’t put the decision to good use as they were succumbed to an excellent team performance by the hosts, a close game in the end but Sparks went away with the victory.
“We went into today with a plan, ready to come back from a hard loss on Saturday, it was nice for it all to come together,” Wong said. “Today was a great team performance, everyone did their job and we are really happy.”
Wong set the tone for the match, sending Laura Marshall’s middle stump flying first ball, before next over Emily Arlott got the wicket of Georgie Boyce, who also went without scoring.
The opening bowlers continued to be dominant, bowling very tightly, allowing Thunder just four runs off first five overs. Wickets then began to fall again, as Wong bowled Ellie Threlkeld for 7 and Emma Lamb was caught at fine leg to give Wong her third wicket, with Thunder reduced to 18 for 4.
Thunder couldn’t manage to salvage a partnership, with Clare Boycott taking the next two wickets, as Sophie Ecclestone skied a catch to point, for 14, followed by Natalie Brown being bowled for 35.
Sarah Glenn was introduced into the attack, making an impact, getting Sophie Turner to edge behind, as Thunder reached 75 for 7 at the halfway stage. However, Kate Cross and Olivia Thomas helped Thunder reach a more respectable total, putting on a partnership of 56 to deny Sparks a quick finish to the innings.
Georgia Davis had other ideas, taking the final three wickets, as Thunder were bowled out for 135 in 46 overs. The first, removing Cross on 45, who went down the ground but was caught at mid-on, then Alex Hartley edged behind without scoring and Hannah Jones went for 3, caught at mid-on also.
As Sparks came out for the chase, Thunder ensured they didn’t make light work of it, with Brown bowling Amy Jones for 12 and Hartley trapping Eve Jones lbw for 27.
Hartley carried on her restrictive bowling, alongside Ecclestone, as Davies was out lbw for 1.
Milly Home and Marie Kelly came out to the middle and saw Sparks through a tough period of bowling as they began to up the run rate in the chase. They put on a partnership of 45 before Cross dismissed Home lbw for 17. Three balls later, Ecclestone bowled Glenn for 0, as Sparks reached 101 for 5 after 30 overs.
Thunder fought their way back in well, as Boycott was caught and bowled by Ecclestone for 5, and the game got a lot tenser than Sparks would have liked. Sparks denied Thunder a nervy finish as Kelly passed her half-century from 89 balls, finishing unbeaten on 59 to see her team home.
North West Thunder captain Hartley said: ‘I’m actually not disappointed, I am really proud of the fight our girls showed today, it is difficult not getting over the line but it was a great game. We have a great bowling attack and that showed today, sometimes you make a score for the batters and sometimes you don’t but that’s cricket.”