Debutant Graham bowls Blaze to sixth straight win

Australia all-rounder Heather Graham took 4-10 on her debut for The Blaze as the East Midlands side maintained their 100% Charlotte Edwards Cup record, sweeping Western Storm aside by seven wickets.

Graham, who has replaced South Africa’s Nadine De Klerk in the Blaze line-up with the latter on international duty, led an impressive bowling display, backed up by off-spinner Lucy Higham (2-18) as Storm were dismissed for 99 at Leicester.

The home side knocked off their 100-run target with 35 balls to spare, thanks mainly to Scotland internationals Kathryn Bryce (46) and sister Sarah (37 not out), with Graham capping her afternoon by hitting the winning boundary.

The Blaze, whose only defeat in last year’s competition was by Southern Vipers in the final, now have six wins from six and top the table ahead of South East Stars, keeping them firmly on track for a return to Finals Day.

Meanwhile, defending champions Vipers climbed to third place as they comfortably saw off Lancashire Thunder by seven wickets at Emirates Old Trafford.

Storm blown away by Graham

Storm opted to bat on winning the toss but Grace Ballinger knocked out Nat Wraith’s off stump in a wicket maiden before Graham struck with the third ball of her Blaze debut as Fran Wilson fell victim to an excellent stumping.

England skipper Heather Knight, making her first appearance of the competition, began positively and hit back-to-back boundaries off Kirstie Gordon’s left-arm spin but the Blaze skipper’s retort was to bowl her with a superb delivery that straightened off the pitch.

Leg-spinner Josie Groves had Amanda-Jade Wellington leg before stepping across the stumps, then Higham dismissed Alex Griffiths and Storm skipper Sophie Luff in the space of two tight overs before Graham returned to take three wickets in the space of six deliveries.

Issy Wong removed England’s Tammy Beaumont early in the home side’s chase and The Blaze were 13-2 when Teresa Graves slapped Anderson straight to backward point.

But Storm could make no further inroads until Lauren Filer bowled Kathryn Bryce to end a third-wicket stand of 67 and by then the result was not in doubt, Graham lofting a straight drive over Wellington’s head to finish the job off the first ball of the 15th over.

Vipers extend winning streak against Thunder

Southern Vipers’ Charli Knott starred with ball and then bat as the defending champions put Lancashire Thunder in a spin at Old Trafford en route to a crucial seven-wicket victory.

Vipers bowled their hosts out for just 85 as spinners Linsey Smith and Knott returned 3-9 and 3-15 respectively from their excellent four-over spells.

Knott then opened the batting for the visitors and dominated the chase with 45 off 28 balls as they triumphed with 55 deliveries unused – the fastest victory for any side in the history of the tournament.

England spinner Sophie Ecclestone claimed two of three consolatory wickets for Thunder, including that of Knott, stumped by Ellie Threlkeld.

Vipers’ victory continued their dominance against Thunder – they have won nine of 10 meetings with the Red Rose across both 50-over and T20 cricket, with the odd one out finishing in a tie.

Supplied by ECB Reporters Network