Northern Diamonds 223 for 4 (Armitage 66, Davis 2-40, George 2-46) were defeated by Central Sparks 164 for 5 (George 56, Levick 3-31). Central Sparks won by five wickets after chasing down a 164 target in 19 overs at Headingley to retain their recent solid success and pile further agony on reigning Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy champions Northern Diamonds.
A rain-soaked match was completed with two balls remaining after showers all day. George, a former England allrounder, took 2 for 46 off seven overs of left-arm seam and then 56 off 35 balls.
The Diamonds were on 223 for 4 from 34 of 37 scheduled overs when rain forced them off the field at 3.20 pm after a delayed start.
When play began at 4.45 pm, the Sparks had a target to beat, which they did due to George’s most fantastic 50-over score this summer – her first campaign with the Midlanders.
The Sparks have now won their past four games after being rained out at home by the Western Storm last week, while the Diamonds have lost their last three to hamper their title defense and slide out of the top three qualifying spots.
Diamonds skipper Hollie Armitage smashed an unbeaten 66 off 56 balls, while Bess Heath hit an unbeaten 49 off 31 balls. From 131 for 3 in the 26th over, they shared 66 runs in seven overs for the fourth wicket.
At 12.40 pm, play began, with the game trimmed to 39 overs on each side. Another slight drizzle shortly after the start necessitated a 37-overs contest.
The Diamonds got off to a quick but not spectacular start, with Lauren Winfield-Hill and Sterre Kalis sharing 60 runs in 12 overs.
Winfield-Hill scored 28 runs, while Kalis scored 36 runs less than 24 hours after representing the Netherlands in a T20 international against Thailand in Utrecht.
Due to the short turnaround, Kalis’s kit became stranded on a flight, forcing her to rely on an old bat and borrowed equipment from teammates. Despite the Sparks’ errors in line and length, she played fearlessly.
England fast bowler Issy Wong was the principal offender, often bowling full tosses to the fence.
Georgia Davis’ off-spin bowled Winfield-Hill, and Kalis was caught behind off George left-arm seam.
After Georgia Davis’ off-spin bowled Winfield-Hill, and Kalis was caught behind off George’s left-arm seam, the score was 83 for 2 after 15 overs. Later in the 26th over, Emma Marlow was caught by Bethan Ellis at cover off George, putting the score at 131 for 3 and clearing the door for Armitage and Heath to open up. Both players hit sixes over long-on.
Armitage, who had completed her fifty in 51 balls, fell to a sensational diving catch by Erin Burns on the run from long-on off Davis after scoring 44 runs in three overs. Only two more overs were available in the Diamonds’ innings before the rain.
When play resumed, the Sparks got off to a good start, reaching 40 without loss in the fifth over, aided by two lots of five wides. Burns, promoted to open, was the first to go when he was caught at mid-on off Jess Woolston’s seam. Soon after, Katie Levick bowled a sweeping Abbey Freeborn before George smacked the leg-spinner for three fours in the 10th over – two wide of long-on – to raise the total to 84 for 2.
In the next over, Eve Jones, for 26, scooped Grace Hall’s clingy seam to short fine-leg, leaving the score at 89 for 3. But George, assisted by former Diamond Ami Campbell, kept the Sparks in the game, ensuring their fifth win in nine games. George hit 50 off 30 balls and reduced the goal to nine off the final two overs. She made 72 with fourth-wicket partner Campbell, who added 27.
Levick bowled both at the start of the penultimate over to calm anxieties, but it was too little, too late. Charis Pavely drove in the winning runs.
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