Southern Vipers retained their Charlotte Edwards Cup title in style at New Road on Sunday, winning by seven wickets with 34 balls to spare, after The Blaze made just 114 for eight in their 20 overs.
It proved a fitting swanswong for player-coach Anya Shrubsole, whose final act for her team was a return of 4-2-24-2, earning her the player of the final award.
Vipers openers Maia Bouchier and Danni Wyatt then followed up their century opening stand in Saturday’s semi-final with a 67-run partnership off 41 balls, which broke the back of the chase – Wyatt bringing up a 27-ball half-century.
In an emotional post-match interview, Shrubsole confirmed that she will be retiring from cricket after The Hundred, though she said she had not yet made a decision about whether she would continue as assistant Vipers coach after this season.
“I think through the course of this tournament it just became clear to me that my time was up,” she said. “I carried on playing because I really enjoy playing, but the pain element of it made it not particularly enjoyable at times, so in lots of ways it was a pretty easy decision to call it a day.
“I’ve got a lot of life left in me and I’d like to be able to walk around, take the dogs out for a walk, and for it not to hurt. I’ve played cricket since I was 16 – when you give that up it’s never easy, but I knew it was the right time.”
After thunderstorms forced players off the field on Saturday, the Worcestershire groundstaff pulled off a successful mopping-up operation to ensure play got under way at 10.15am on the reserve day.
East Midlands team the Blaze, playing in their first Finals Day after their rebrand from Lightning at the end of last season, had resumed on 53 for four, 9.3 overs into their innings. They needed to come out swinging if they were to have any chance of making a competitive total.
Instead, they nurdled singles; Marie Kelly steadfastly made her way to an all-run 26 not out, off 36 balls. It took 27 balls after the resumption before Nadine de Klerk finally slapped Georgia Adams over the midwicket boundary.
Charlie Dean helped keep them quiet, picking up the wickets of Sarah Glenn – who drove straight into the hands of long-off in the 14th over – and knocking out De Klerk’s leg stump.
In reply, Grace Ballinger’s first over went for 17 as Wyatt and Bouchier (25 off 20) picked off boundaries at will during a mammoth 61-run powerplay.
Bouchier fell in the seventh over, bowled by Glenn after swinging at one too many, while Wyatt was adjudged lbw to De Klerk just five balls after bringing up her half-century.
With just 27 runs still needed, a powerfully struck cameo from England’s Freya Kemp (13 off 8) whittled the total down, and Vipers captain Georgia Adams (16 not out off 12) then chipped in with back-to-back boundaries to take her side home.