Central Sparks have qualified for the Charlotte Edwards Cup Finals Day after losing by seven wickets to Western Storm in their last Group B encounter at New Road.
Sparks have qualified for the knockout stage in Northampton next Saturday, even if they lose top spot to South East Stars, who play on Sunday, because they are the best second-placed team in the group, having won four of their six games.
Amy Jones, England’s keeper-batswoman, top-scored for the hosts with 63 runs from 46 balls, including nine fours. It was her third fifty for Sparks in six innings, and she is now the competition’s leading scorer with 245 runs at a strike rate of 141.61.
However, spinners Claire Nicholas and Sophia Smale combined for 8-0-39-3, limiting the Sparks total to a manageable 134 for 4.
Storm won with seven balls to spare thanks to Georgia Hennessy’s undefeated 47 off 45 balls and some late hitting by Dani Gibson.
The Sparks chose to bat on the same hybrid wicket that yielded over 400 runs in the Vitality Blast match between Worcestershire Rapids and Birmingham Bears on Friday evening. They got off to a bad start when Izzy Wong was caught at mid-on by Dani Gibson in the second over.
Gibson was lofted to the cover rope by Eve Jones in the fourth over for the first boundary. However, her second-wicket combination with Amy Jones grew in strength over time, adding 65 runs in 9.1 overs.
In the 11th over, Smale broke the stand when Eve Jones went for a big shot and was bowled for 27 with the score at 70 for 2.
When Amy Jones swept Gibson for her seventh boundary, she had scored a superb half-century from 40 balls. Her elegant performance came to an end when she was bowled while attempting a hit over midwicket.
Fi Morris got the Storm off to a flying start with two boundaries in a 13-run opening over against Grace Potts. Morris was subsequently bowled by Wong’s first delivery for a no-ball, but he failed to capitalize and was caught at point in Potts’ third over.
Sophie Luff was caught behind by Emily Arlott, but Hennessy and Fran Wilson added 57 runs in 8.1 overs.
Wilson was dismissed off Arlott by Eve Jones, who made a great catch sprinting back from mid-off. Gibson, on the other hand, stepped in and scored an unbeaten 24 off only 14 balls, including a magnificent six over midwicket off Liz Russell, to put the game to bed.