Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy: England’s Heather Knight, Katherine Brunt & Danni Wyatt shine

Katherine Brunt
Katherine Brunt (centre) took four wickets in the space of six overs to reduce Sparks from 133-5 to 142-9

England stars dominated day one of the inaugural Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy as Heather Knight, Katherine Brunt and Danni Wyatt produced standout displays.

Brunt, England’s all-time leading one-day wicket-taker, took 5-20 as Northern Diamonds thrashed Central Sparks.

England skipper Knight hit an unbeaten 91 as Western Storm cruised to a six-wicket win at South East Stars.

Wyatt, meanwhile, struck a lusty 66 as Southern Vipers impressively chased down Sunrisers’ 202 at Chelmsford.

Thunder edged out Lightning in an aptly rain-affected affair as all four opening games of the new 50-over competition – named after pioneering former England captain Heyhoe Flint, who died in 2017 – finished as away wins.

The tournament – featuring the eight England and Wales Cricket Board regional hubs – was set up after the coronavirus pandemic thwarted this year’s planned introduction of The Hundred.

While some of the team names are geographically self-explanatory, others such as Midlands-based Lightning, London and East side Sunrisers and Lancashire-homed Thunder, are less immediately apparent.

The eight teams have been split into two regional groups and will play each other twice, with the two group winners contesting the final on Sunday, 27 September at Edgbaston.

New competition – but familiar faces shine

All 24 England training group players are available for the Trophy’s first two fixtures – but it was the oldest of them, 35-year-old Brunt, who stole the show from a bowling standpoint on the opening day.

Brunt, who has taken 150 one-day internationals wickets for her country, claimed a first-day five-for with England team-mate Sarah Glenn among her victims at Edgbaston.

Her haul helped Diamonds dismiss Sparks for 144, a total the visitors’ openers almost knocked off between them as Lauren Winfield (72) and Hollie Armitage (54 not out) put on a 139-run partnership.

Elsewhere, national team skipper Knight’s 91 off 99 balls led Storm home with 10 overs to spare after Georgia Hennessy’s 4-31 helped dismiss hosts South East Stars for 166 at Beckenham.

Wyatt’s 66, meanwhile, just eclipsed England team-mate Mady Villiers’ 64 for Sunrisers as the visiting Vipers romped home by seven wickets at 208-3.

The closest game occurred at Trent Bridge where rain led to a thrilling finale after England youngster Sophie Ecclestone’s unbeaten 60, plus 52 from Ellie Threlkeld, helped Thunder post 206-9.

Showers midway through Lightning’s reply left the visitors a target of 151 off 36 overs, but in chasing they lost six wickets in the final three overs – including two in the last two balls – to fall five runs short.

Sophie Ecclestone and Ellie Threlkeld.
England’s Sophie Ecclestone (left) hit a half-century for Thunder at Trent Bridge, as did team-mate Ellie Threlkeld

Results and scorecards

North Group:

Central Sparks (144) lost to Northern Diamonds (145-1) by nine wickets (Edgbaston) – scorecard

Lightning (146) lost to Thunder (206-9) by four runs (DLS method) (Trent Bridge) – scorecard

South Group:

South East Stars (166) lost to Western Storm (167-4) by six wickets (Beckenham) – scorecard

Sunrisers(202) lost to Southern Vipers (208-3) by seven wickets (Chelmsford) – scorecard

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