Ahead of Saturday’s Charlotte Edwards Cup Finals Day in Worcester, we tell you all you need to know…
Who is at Finals Day?
The Blaze, Southern Vipers and Thunder have reached the big dance at New Road after finishing first, second and third respectively during the league campaign. Vipers and Thunder will meet in the semi-final from midday with the winners going on to face the table-topping Blaze in the final from 4pm. Vipers are looking to retain the title while Blaze and Thunder are aiming to claim it for the first time with South East Stars having won the inaugural trophy in 2021.
Were Blaze the standouts in the group phase?
Yep, seven wins from seven for The Blaze with a change of name bringing a change of fortunes. After losing 11 of their 12 matches across the first two years of the Charlotte Edwards Cup under their previous moniker Lightning, the team have become a dominant side since adopting The Blaze title.
Who have been Blaze’s star players?
The acquisitions of England duo Nat Sciver-Brunt and Tammy Beaumont have been key to the rise, with Sciver-Brunt scoring 194 runs, including an unbeaten 96 from 50 balls, across her four matches and Beaumont chipping in with 187 runs in her five.
Sciver-Brunt will not feature for Blaze at Finals Day with the Ashes looming but Beaumont will. England leg-spinner Sarah Glenn, who scored a quick-fire 43 and took two wickets in her last match, is available, too, and will take her place in a bowling attack led by South Africa seamer Nadine de Klerk, the top wicket-taker in the tournament with 14 strikes at an average of 10.64.
What about Vipers?
Vipers are used to the big stage. In the four seasons of the now-defunct Kia Super League, they reached three finals, winning once, while they were then victorious across the first two seasons of the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and came second in that competition in 2022. Charlotte Edwards Cup-wise, they reached Finals Day in 2021 and then beat Central Sparks by six wickets in the 2022 final to win the trophy named after their head coach!
Vipers’ Georgia Adams said of former England captain Edwards: “She’s got a sixth sense for cricket. She understands the game in ways that I’ve probably never known anyone else to be able to. She’s very good at people management, she’s very clear, she’s honest but in an appropriate manner and she backs you.”
Adams – the second-highest run-scorer this year behind only South East Stars’ Bryony Smith – and England’s Danni Wyatt could be key in the batting unit, while seamer Anya Shrubsole and spinners Linsey Smith and Charlie Dean head the bowling attack. Off-spinner Adams has also chipped in with six wickets so is an all-round threat.
Tell me more about Thunder
Like The Blaze, Thunder failed to qualify for the first two Finals Days of the Charlotte Edwards Cup but booked their spot this year with a seven-wicket win over Northern Diamonds in their last group game. After skittling Diamonds for 96, Thunder needed to reach their target inside 16 overs to leapfrog their opponents into third place – and did it in 15, thanks principally to Fi Morris’ unbeaten 42.
Top-scorer Emma Lamb (196 runs in five innings with two fifties) and the top-ranked bowler in T20I and ODI cricket Sophie Ecclestone have been permitted to play by England.
With Kate Cross preparing for the Women’s Ashes, Thunder will also look to USA seamer Tara Norris and Scottish spinner Olivia Bell. Norris has nine wickets in seven games, while teenager Bell has seven in three, including 3-9 last time out versus Diamonds.