Central Sparks Triumph with Eve Jones’ Record-Breaking 136* in Thrilling Victory

Central Sparks’ captain, Eve Jones, smashed an outstanding 136* not out, clinching a stunning victory against Lancashire Thunder in a thrilling encounter at Emirates Old Trafford in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

This victory marks Jones’ exceptional contribution and sets a new record for the highest score by a woman at the renowned ground.

Central Sparks Triumph with Eve Jones’ Record-Breaking 136* in Thrilling Victory

Thunder 284 for 7 (Lamb 107, Potts 2-46) lost to Central Sparks 287 for 7 (Jones 136*, Cross 2-50) by 3 wickets.

As late as the final over, when Sparks needed just 11 runs to win, Jones’ unbeaten 136, the highest score by a woman at the venue, guided her side to an exciting three-wicket victory.

Emma Lamb hit 107 and the hosts amassed a daunting 284 for seven earlier in the day. Emma Lamb and fellow opener Seren Smale had an opening combination of 140, Thunder’s first-ever century stand for the first wicket in the championship.

But the Sparks captain was the star of the show as she scored the winning runs in the last over to complete an incredible victory, helped along by an important forty-run performance by Australian batsman Courtney Webb.

Lamb and Smale attacked Sparks’ seamers with confidence and skill, hoping to build on their opening partnership of 89 in the previous victory over The Blaze. With Lamb reaching her own half-century off 51 balls and Smale making her second consecutive fifty off 78 balls, the 100-run partnership was achieved in just 125 balls.

It took until the thirtyth over for Sparks to break through, as Australian batswoman Katie Mack was brought to the middle by Hannah Baker’s wicket of Smale for 67.

As the sun started to beat down on Sparks’ bowlers, Mack—who has so far made a solid impression at Emirates Old Trafford—and Lamb set about increasing the run rate with some furious running between the wickets.

After Lamb was brilliantly caught at deep midwicket by a falling Bethan Ellis off Emily Arlott, 77 frantic runs were scored for the second wicket until Lamb was eventually out for 107 from 104 balls.

Fast runs became the norm, and Fi Morris (29 off 19 balls) and Naomi Dattani (17 off 13) both contributed to advancing the total before the end when Mack was well taken at mid on by Ria Fackrell to give Baker her second wicket.

Unfazed by the substantial goal, Jones ignored the early loss of opening partner Charis Pavely, who was bowled for 10 by Kate Cross with style, scoring points at will down the wicket and on both sides of the pitch.

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The third wicket pair put on 81 to bring Sparks right into the game before Brewer was caught in the deep by Smale off Tara Norris for 26. Jones then lost another partner when Abigail Freeborn hit a full toss to a diving Dattani at mid on for 13, leaving the score 63 for 2.

If it meant that the hosts were once again the favorites, Webb had other ideas. The Australian joined Jones at the wicket and delivered a stunning 44 that including three fours and a six.

The following wicket felt like a big one, and after the brilliant Hannah Jones bowled the charging Webb with a wonderful ball, Jones had to face a growing run rate and the difficult chore of finding boundaries.

She managed to pull it off, helped along by an important appearance by Emily Arlott (15). Before Cross bowled the final over, Sparks needed double figures from Jones and Bethan Ellis to pull off an unexpected triumph.

Ellis’s opening two balls produced two boundaries, which calmed the players down. It was only right that Jones would eventually make the winning runs through point to seal an unforgettable victory.

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