Northern Diamonds v South East Stars
Charlotte Edwards Cup Finals Day, Final
Sunday September 5, 2021, 4pm
Ageas Bowl, Southampton
Toss: Northern Diamonds won it and elected to bat.
Teams: Northern Diamonds - Heath w, Dobson, Kalis, Winfield-Hill, Armitage c, Gunn, Smith, Hopkins, MacDonald, Slater, Levick.
South East Stars - Smith c, White, Capsey, Davidson-Richards, Cranstone, Franklin, Gibbs, Jones, Moore, Chathli w, Gregory.
Match summary: The Northern Diamonds bid for Charlotte Edwards Cup glory fell at the final hurdle as South East Stars chased down a target of 139 to win by five wickets with two overs to spare.
Hollie Armitage top-scored for the Diamonds with 59 not out as they recovered from 22-2 to 138-4.
Unfortunately, the Stars, despite losing 4-14 at one stage to fall to 85-4, chased with a degree of comfort in the Southampton sunshine to end a hugely encouraging Diamonds campaign on a disappointing note.
Seventeen-year-old England hopeful Alice Capsey top-scored for them with 40 not out off 26, including four fours and a six.
Report: Stars openers Aylish Cranstone and Bryony Smith, their captain, set about a clinical and brutal chase of 139 with 35 and 37 apiece.
They shared a defining 71 inside nine overs to give the Diamonds a mountain to climb in defence.
Both departed quickly afterwards as four fell for 14 - 85-4 - but the damage was done, allowing teenager Alice Capsey to steer her side home with an innings mixed with invention and power.
The Diamonds innings was very similar to the 135-6 they posted in the semi-final win over the Southern Vipers in the midday semi-final.
This time, it was Hollie Armitage who anchored the innings with her first half-century of the summer in Diamonds colours, while Jenny Gunn made 22 not out at the end once more.
Those two shared an unbroken 50 in the final 6.2 overs of the innings from 80-4.
While the innings against the Vipers included three late sixes, the one difference here was that their route to 138 was more accumulative.
Five of the six batters used all reached double figures; Leah Dobson with 11, Bess Heath 22, Armitage, Sterre Kalis with 18 and Gunn.
Ironically, after her semi-final heroics, the only one who didn’t was Lauren Winfield-Hill, trapped lbw for a three-ball duck by the seam of Grace Gibbs as the score fell to 22-2 in the fifth over.
Armitage, who hit four fours in 48 balls, was determined to bat through the innings having come in at the fall of the Winfield-Hill wicket, and was busy without being destructive. In all, she hit four fours.
Unfortunately, what looked like a competitive score at least was made to look considerably under par as openers Smith and, in particular, Cranstone flew out of the blocks.
They posted 32-0 off the first three overs and 50-0 from six, with left-handed Cranstone 28 at that stage. That included a slog swept six over deep mid-wicket off Linsey Smith’s left-arm spin.
From there, the Diamonds had to produce something special. And although they claimed four wickets for 14 runs, it just wasn’t to be against a side including former Yorkshire Diamond Alice Davidson-Richards.
Not taking anything away from the Stars, they batted brilliantly early on. But a couple of early aerial shots narrowly evaded fielders.
When leg-side dominant Cranstone (four fours and a six in 27 balls) stood on her stumps against Alex MacDonald’s seamers, the Stars were 71-1 in the ninth.
Linsey Smith bowled Bryony Smith (seven fours in 25) in the next over - 81-2 - before Katie Levick had both Grace Gibbs and Phoebe Franklin caught in the deep within four balls in the 11th over.
At that stage, the Diamonds had a sniff at 85-4.
However, 17-year-old Capsey, who made a name for herself in the recent Hundred with champions Oval Invincibles, ensured there were no further dramas in front of a Finals Day crowd of 1,270.
Capsey lofted Levick’s leg-spin for six as the Stars reached 119-4 after 15, needing 20 more.
She shared 51 inside seven with Davidson-Richards, who finished with 18 before falling to MacDonald - a brilliant low catch at cover by Armitage - with victory in sight. Capsey hit the winning runs.
Turning point: The first three overs of the Stars chase brought 32 runs, taking all the pressure off the Stars, who finished top of Group One and advanced directly through to the final with five wins from their six group games.
Magic moment: For Hollie Armitage to post her first half-century of the summer in Diamonds colours was a significant moment, not just in this match but also for the rest of the season. If this kick-starts a run of form, something special could yet be on the cards for her and the Diamonds.
Stat: Two trophies have been completed in the new era of regional women’s cricket, and the Diamonds have reached both finals. As well as this, they were also beaten in last September’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final by Southern Vipers at Edgbaston.
They will be hoping to make it third time lucky by winning that competition when this season’s event resumes later this week.
What they said: Captain Hollie Armitage - “I think we did a really good job in the first game to get us into a position where we could win the second. I just think we ran out of steam in the end.
“We maybe didn’t adapt as well as we could have done in the powerplay, and credit to the Stars. They came out and hit the ground running, putting us under a lot of pressure.
“It was a big run chase in a final, so credit to them.
“We thought it was a competitive target we had there. Chasing 139 is tough, whether it’s a final or not to be honest.
“It’s pleasing to get runs, but if it’s not in a winning cause then it doesn’t really mean anything to me.
“If I can take some momentum into the 50-over comp, great. But, for me, the most important thing is to try and get the team over the line. It just wasn’t meant to be today.”
What’s next: The Diamonds resume their 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy campaign against Western Storm at Emirates Riverside, Durham on Friday (10.30am).
Hollie Armitage’s side are second in the eight-team group with three games remaining.
They are a point behind leaders Southern Vipers on 13 with a maximum of five for a win.
The top team advances directly to the September 25 final at Northampton, while the second and third teams face off in a semi-final eliminator.