Thunder edged out by Sparks at Edgbaston
Defeat by 4 wickets for Thunder despite a strong display with the ball and fine spells from Alex Hartley, Sophie Ecclestone
Thunder tasted defeat for the first time in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, losing by 4 wickets, thanks to an all-round Central Sparks performance, that saw them chase down 144 in 44 overs.
Issy Wong excelled once again, taking three wickets (3-26), whilst Marie Kelly paced the chase brilliantly against some tough Thunder bowling, top scoring on 59.
Thunder won the toss and elected to bat, but Wong struck first ball to remove Laura Marshall, 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 18/4.
Thunder worked hard to rebuild the innings, before Clare Boycott took 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, forcing Sophie Turner to edge behind, as Thunder reached 75/7 at the halfway stage.
However, Kate Cross and Olivia Thomas helped Thunder reach a competitive total, the Heywood CC pair putting on a partnership of 56.
When Cross fell for 45, the final three wickets came quickly, as Thunder were bowled out for 135 in 46 overs. Cross was caught at mid on attempting a sweep, 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's bowlers applied some early pressure, with Brown (1-18) bowling Amy Jones out for 12 and Hartley trapping Eve Jones lbw for 27.
Hartley (2-19) brought herself into the attack, removed Davies lbw for 1, and restricted the run rate well, alongside Sophie Ecclestone (2-13).
MIlly Home and Marie Kelly came out to the middle and saw Sparks through a tough period of bowling. They put on a partnership of 45 before Cross (1-50) dismissed Home lbw for 17. Three balls later, Ecclestone bowled Glenn for 0, to ramp up the pressure on the Sparks who reached 101/5 after 30 overs.
Thunder fought their way back in well, as Boycott was then caught and bowled by Ecclestone for 5. Sparks denied Thunder a grandstand finish as Kelly passed her half century from 89 balls, finishing unbeaten on 59 to see her team home in a tight affair at Edgbaston.