The Blaze aim for first title at Charlotte Edwards Cup Finals Day

The Blaze overseas star Nadine de Klerk believes an attacking mindset has been key to their perfect record ahead of Charlotte Edwards Cup Finals Day on Saturday.

By Alex Smith, ECB Reporters Network

Central Sparks tried, so did Sunrisers, Thunder, Northern Diamonds, Western Storm, South East Stars and Southern Vipers, but none of them have managed to put out The Blaze.

At this point, trained firefighters might also fail.

The Blaze are yet to lose since relocating from Loughborough to Trent Bridge and rebranding the Lighting name over the winter.

In fact, they have already won more matches than the eight they managed since the regional centres were set up in 2020.

They went seven from seven in the group stages of the Charlotte Edwards Cup to top the group and book a place in the final at New Road at 4pm on Saturday – with Thunder and Southern Vipers battling to face them in the 12pm Eliminator.

“It is pretty special,” admitted overseas all-rounder Nadine de Klerk. “If someone had told us that before the season started, we probably wouldn’t have believed them.

“It is important to keep winning as once you start losing you kind of find ways to lose. At the moment, we are finding ways to win.

“When I came over, I looked at the team on paper and thought it was a really good side. It is a good mix of youth and experience and Kirstie Gordon has been great as captain.

“We have had some great England international players which have been great and the younger domestic players have stepped up to the plate.”

So, what has been the secret to the titanic turnaround?

De Klerk explained: “The main thing has been a winning mindset. It sounds really simple.

Nadine de Klerk celebrate with Sarah Bryce after hitting the winning runs against Northern Diamonds earlier this month

“We have been really attacking and positive all the way through and have done things slightly different than in the past.

“There are a lot of players who have been together and walked this journey a long way with each other so it is great The Blaze are getting over the line in matches and finding ways to win games.”

There is a hint of modesty from fast bowler de Klerk, with the South African the leading wicket-taker in the Charlotte Edwards Cup with 14 scalps.

She is one of a number of overseas stars who have lit up the tournament, with the likes of compatriots Dane van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon, as well as Australian Erin Burns and Ireland’s Orla Prendergast bringing their high-quality know-how.

“Having so many internationals come over to play in the regional competitions is really great for the domestic system in England,” said de Klerk, who admitted she didn’t know a lot about the regional structure before signing.

“It allows domestic players to come up against international players which is a great challenge.

“Coming in as an international, you do feel a little bit of added pressure because you want to do well and there is the expectation that the international should really contribute and win games.

“But the team has been helpful and not allowed me to feel pressure since I got here.”

De Klerk arrived in the tournament on the back of South Africa’s incredible run to the Women’s T20 World Cup final on home turf.

Despite losing to Australia at a sold-out final, De Klerk is planning to use those experiences at Worcester this weekend.

“It’s definitely one of the highlights of my career," said de Klerk. "It is those moment that you dream of as a little girl.

“There is going to be a few butterflies flying around and even though we’ve won all our games we don’t want to fly too high.

“Prep-wise it should be the same because what we’ve been doing has been working. I take the final mindset out of it because if it was any other game it would be okay.

“Luckily we have England players who have won World Cups and played in plenty of finals.

“It is really important for those who have been there before to pass things onto the younger girls, especially in a side with players who haven’t played in finals before – it will be a big occasion for them.”

Tammy Beaumont is one of those that knows what playing in a final is like, having been part of England’s World Cup win in 2017. She and leg spinner Sarah Glenn have both been made available despite ramping up their preparations for the Women’s Ashes.

De Klerk can’t escape Ashes-fever. She lives next door to Trent Bridge which has huge billboards up ahead of the Women’s Test – which has broken records with 11,000 tickets already sold.

“I think it is going to be a good series,” said de Klerk. “In the last couple of years, England have changed their approach and it kind of reminds me of ‘Baz Ball’.

“I think Australia will win and they find ways to win but I’m going to support England and can’t wait for it to kick off.”