Alice Davidson-Richards celebrated her latest England call-up with a century as South-East Stars thrashed table toppers The Blaze by 107 runs at Beckenham to boost their prospects of a place in the playoffs.
The 29-year-old Kent batter, who will link up with England tomorrow in place of the ill Lauren Bell, struck 101 with a six and 11 fours in an innings of 128 balls.
Davidson-Richards shared a stand of 119 for the fifth wicket with in-form Paige Scholfield as the hosts posted a daunting 278, Grace Ballinger returning 4-54 and Lucy Higham 2-32 for the visitors.
Blaze, who were found to be uncharacteristically sloppy in the field couldn’t improve their fortunes with the bat in hand, with Kirstie Gordon top scoring with 40 in an underwhelming reply of 171. Alexa Stonehouse’s opening spell of 1-4 put them on the back foot before Dani Gregory’s 3-32 cleaned up the tail.
Ballinger ensured an explosive start to the encounter, trapping Jemima Spence lbw for nought with her third delivery and when Kira Chathli inside-edged one into her middle stump two balls later Stars were 1-2.
Skipper Bryony Smith retaliated with a trio of boundaries off Cassidy McCarthy and Davidson-Richards caught the mood to cream one from Ballinger through the covers. Successive fours by Davidson-Richards off spinner Kirstie Gordon raised the 50 partnership in 42 balls, but Ballinger concluded her initial spell by removing Smith for 34.
Davidson-Richards drilled the game’s first six over bowler Gordon’s head, before being given a life on 32, the spinner failing to hold on to a tough caught and bowled. She would make the most of the reprieve, her seventh four carrying her to 50 in 61 balls.
Scholfield was also given an early reprieve, Ella Claridge shelling a routine catch at mid-wicket and the South African-born all-rounder’s response was to unfurl a series of cover drives as she sped to 50 from 55 balls.
The pair raised the 100-stand and were sitting pretty at 180-4 at the second drinks interval. Scholfield departed soon afterwards and while Davidson-Richards reached her century, she was stumped almost immediately. However, a huge six from Alexa Stonehouse and a polished 33 from Bethan Miles meant Stars had 278 to defend.
Lizelle Lee soon showed her power, pulling one from Ryana Macdonald Gay for six, but the bowler gained revenge when the former South African opener drilled a fuller ball straight to Scholfield at cover.
Stonehouse was bowling superbly from the other end, yet ironically her worst ball got a wicket, Georgie Boyce tickling one down leg-side through to Chathli and when Macdonald-Gay flattened Teresa Graves’s off-stump with the first ball of the next over The Blaze were 41-3.
As the clouds rolled in and the rate required rose, the expected onslaught from a team who’d won seven out of eight completed games never materialised. Miles, inspired by her batting cameo bowled Michaela Kirk for a painstaking seven and Munro was caught short in her bid to scamper back for two by Chloe Hill’s throw.
Claridge stuck around for 50 balls to make 33 before falling lbw to Smith’s first delivery and only Gordon’s late resistance gave the score a more respectable look.