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Kathryn Bryce looks to go out in Blaze of glory in last Charlotte Edwards Cup
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Kathryn Bryce looks to go out in Blaze of glory in last Charlotte Edwards Cup

The T20 Charlotte Edwards Cup is only four years old, but Saturday’s finals day at Derby is set to be the competition’s last. From 2025, women’s domestic cricket will be played by counties, not regions and though the England and Wales Cricket Board has yet to confirm arrangements under the new structure, the Guardian understands that the most likely option is for a Women’s Vitality Blast to run alongside its male counterpart.

But the fact that the Charlotte Edwards Cup may soon retire to the great trophy cabinet in the sky gives Saturday’s matches added spice, at least according to 2024’s leading run-scorer, Kathryn Bryce: “It’ll be pretty special being part of the last one and a big stamp too, to hopefully take that momentum into next year.”

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The Scottish all-rounder will be lining up for the Trent Bridge-based team the Blaze in Saturday’s first semi-final against Central Sparks. She has every incentive to secure Blaze’s first silverware after it was announced on Thursday that she had signed a three-year contract with Nottinghamshire before the winter restructure. She says the decision was straightforward: “I’m happy with where I am, very settled here and with the team. I had a chat with our director about a month ago and made the decision pretty much straightaway.”

The signing is something of a coup for Notts, given Bryce’s recent form – four 50s in her past seven games, plus nine wickets in the competition. It will also please her parents, given that her sister and Blaze teammate Sarah, who scored an unbeaten 50 at Lord’s last week to seal the side’s finals day qualification, has also signed for the club: “Mum and Dad will definitely be happy that they don’t have to try to be in two places at once.”

The two-time champions Southern Vipers will contest the other semi against the South East Stars and are widely expected to meet the Blaze in the final. If so, it would be a repeat of last season’s denouement in which Vipers triumphed by seven wickets. The Hampshire-based Vipers are coached by the woman after whom the competition is named and though the former England captain Edwards was apparently faintly embarrassed by the eponym, it might still be considered fitting for the trophy to rest finally in Southampton.

Kathryn Bryce in action against Western Storm at Grace Road in June 2024View image in fullscreen

Bryce, though, is determined history will not repeat itself: “Vipers are a big rival for most people, but we’re confident. A lot of people in the group hadn’t been part of a such a high-pressure game before that game [the 2023 final] and we learned a lot from the experience.”

Bryce is used to must-win games having spent the past six years as Scotland captain in what must sometimes have felt like a sea of never-ending high-pressure moments – the associate nation forced to spend year after year trying and failing to get past better-resourced teams in World Cup qualifying tournaments. Despair finally turned to joy in Abu Dhabi last month in the semi-final of the T20 global qualifiers against Ireland: a magic spell of four wickets for eight runs and an unbeaten 35 from Bryce helped Scotland win by eight wickets, securing a first World Cup spot. “I’ve come down a little bit but sometimes I still wake up and think, ‘I’m going to play in a World Cup’. That’s pretty special,” she says.

It means that, in four months’ time in Bangladesh, Bryce will face the unique challenge of leading Scotland out against an England side containing some of her Blaze teammates. For now, though, there is a more immediate goal: making a different kind of history at Derby.

Source: theguardian.com