Lauren Winfield-Hill hit a match-winning century as the Northern Diamonds beat The South East Stars by seven wickets in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Beckenham on Sunday.
The England star produced a show-stealing 116 not out as the reigning champions cruised home with 17 overs to spare, leapfrogging the Stars into second place in the table.
Earlier Grace Hall took her best senior figures of four for 33 and claimed a run out on her competition debut as the Stars were bowled out for 205 in 46 overs. At one point the hosts looked unlikely to reach three figures, but they were rescued by Chloe Hill, who hit 63 from 80 balls and put on 81 for the seventh wicket with Bethan Miles.
Both sides were depleted by international call-ups, but it was Winfield-Hill’s release from the Ashes squad that proved pivotal as she passed 50 for the ninth time in this competition since the start of the 2022 season. Chloe Tryon was the Diamonds’ next highest scorer with 57 not out as the Diamonds claimed a bonus point win, closing on 209 for three.
Stars chose to bat at a blustery Beckenham but lost Kira Chathli early when she was caught behind off Jessica Woolston for 11.
Alexa Stonehouse then became Woolston’s second victim when she fell to a sharp one-handed catch by Lauren Winfield-Hill for nine.
The Stars’ new overseas player Tazmin Brits looked comfortable until she was lbw to Katie Levick for 17 and Levick struck again when Jemima Spence edged her to Tryon at first slip for 13.
Hall, displaying her Malinga-esque action for the first time in the RHFT, took her first wicket when she had Kalea Moore caught behind for a three-ball duck and when Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones was caught and bowled by Emma Marlow for 10 the Stars were on 91 for six with only 24.1 overs bowled.
Hill, however, was determined to give them something to defend. She passed 50 when she drove Lizzie Scott through mid-on for four and mounted a salvage operation alongside Miles, who hung around for 28 from 45 balls before an eventful 39th over.
Hall bowled 11 deliveries, including five wides and went for 16, but crucially took two wickets. Miles was caught at mid-on by Phoebe Turner off the first legitimate delivery and Darcie Carter was then bowled for two.
In her next over Hall finally brought Hill’s best innings in regional cricket to an end, getting her caught by Turner at mid-wicket, concluding a spell of three wickets in 15 deliveries.
Last wicket duo Priyanazz Chatterji and Dani Gregory took the score past the 200 mark before the latter was run out by Hall, but the total looked low as soon as the visitors started to bat.
The Diamonds’ openers had raced to 33 without loss in the fourth when Sterre Kalis stopped halfway down the wicket in pursuit of a single and was run out by Spence for six.
Winfield-Hill took a single from Gregory to reach 50 but lost another partner when Marlow was lbw to Carter for 20.
Carter claimed her second wicket when Miles took a brilliant one-handed catch at wide mid-on to remove Turner for two but that was as good as it got for the Stars.
Tryon came in and bashed 50 from 52 balls, reaching the landmark in the 32nd over with a six back over Stonehouse’s head. Three balls later Winfield-Hill pulled Stonehouse for four through backward square leg to reach three figures and with the scores level she clinched the win when she hit Gregory for four.
South East Stars coach Johann Myburgh said: “It’s always disappointing when you lose a game of cricket. There will be players in there who are really young and inexperienced, but they’re competitive and they’ll be disappointed to lose a cricket game.