Central Sparks 206 (Campbell 50, Filer 3-36) beat Western Storm 184 for 9 (Filer 58*, Glenn 4-23) by 22 runs
Chasing a target of 207, Storm came up short at 184 for 9, their cause fatally undermined by the 22-year-old leg-spinner from Derby, who took 4 for 23 from 10 overs. New ball bowler Grace Potts weighed in with 2 for 33 and seamer Elizabeth Russell took 2 for 48 as the top and middle order were blown away. Only tailenders Lauren Filer and Sophia Smale offered any kind of resistance, these two contributing 58 not out and 32 respectively, and staging a defiant ninth wicket stand of 73 by way of consolation.
But Storm lacked the application required with the bat on a typically slow and low Bristol pitch to follow up last week’s opening win over Lightning, handing their opponents the opportunity to atone for defeat at the hands of Southern Vipers in their first game.
The game was all but over as a contest when Storm lurched to 48 for 6 inside 14 overs, the victims of poor shot selection and some outstanding bowling.
Potts set the tone, having Georgia Hennessy caught at the wicket without scoring and then inducing Alex Griffiths to hole out to mid-off as the hosts forfeited both openers inside seven overs with 17 runs on the board. Fran Wilson was next to go cheaply, bowled playing back to Elizabeth Russell and missing a straight one, at which point Storm were 31 for 3 in the tenth over.
A difficult situation became positively parlous when Sophie Luff and big-hitting Dani Gibson succumbed to the first and sixth balls of Glenn’s opening over from the Ashley Down Road End. Caught in two minds, Luff was pinned lbw, while Gibson played across the line and was bowled. When Nat Wraith edged a catch behind off Russell in the next over, Storm were in dire straits.
There followed 18 dot balls, a passage of austerity that culminated in Glenn having Holland held at slip. Katie George was then bowled by Glenn, terminating any fanciful notion Storm supporters might have harboured of an against-the-odds triumph.
Understanding the risks associated with pushing too hard on a worn surface, Sparks’ top-order batters had earlier demonstrated a willingness to graft for their runs, a quality that set them apart from their opponents.
Filer served early notice that this was far from a batting paradise, mustering impressive rhythm and pace from the Bristol Pavilion End to remove Davina Perrin and Thea Brookes while the fielding restrictions were still in place.
Campbell rode her luck against Storm’s main strike bowler, cutting hard to backward point and being put down by Wilson before she had scored. She certainly made good her escape, the left-hander surviving a sticky start to match Jones blow for blow in a stand of 64 for the third wicket as the visitors reasserted themselves.
Prepared to wait for the bad ball, these two were severe on anything short or wide, advancing the score to 109 for 2 at the halfway stage of the innings. Just when a half-century appeared to be hers for the asking, Jones blotted her copybook, playing across the line to a straight delivery from off spinner Chloe Skelton and departing bowled for 44.
Skelton’s clever variations on pace and flight almost produced another wicket, but she was unable to hold onto a hard return catch offered up by the fortuitous Campbell, who went on to raise 50 from 74 balls, with eight fours.
Dropped catches looked likely to cost Storm dear when George fumbled at deep square leg to allow Freeborn a life on three, much to the chagrin of the returning Filer. Yet partial salvation was at hand for the home side in the form of Holland, who claimed two wickets in the space of 13 deliveries after being introduced in the 34th over. Campbell clipped a swinging ball to Skelton at short fine leg, while Glenn was bowled for two as Sparks were reduced to 156 for 5. Ria Fackrell contributed 16 in a partnership of 32 in seven overs with Freeborn before being bowled by Gibson as Storm turned the screw.
As Sparks attempted to accelerate, so Filer struck to remove Freeborn, caught at the wicket by Wraith having hewn 35 from 58 balls. Gibson ran out Georgia Davis and then bowled Potts, while Wraith ran out Hannah Baker off the final ball of the innings.
Campbell’s demise in the 35th over proved a turning point, Sparks adding a mere 63 runs for the loss of six wickets in their final 15 overs thereafter. Yet once Glenn went to work, it proved more than enough.