South East Stars and The Blaze braced for Eliminator showdown

Kirstie Gordon and Bryony Smith look ahead to Thursday's Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Eliminator at Beckenham.

South East Stars and The Blaze will go head to head at Beckenham tomorrow in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Eliminator. The winner will progress to Sunday’s final at Northamptonshire, where Southern Vipers lie in wait

For The Blaze it represents an opportunity to make up for a month that hasn’t gone their way. In pole position heading into September, they’ve been surpassed by the Vipers for the guaranteed place in the final.

"The Eliminator is a big game for us,” says captain Kirstie Gordon. “The last few weeks haven't been ideal for us and obviously we would have preferred to have progressed automatically to the Final but as a team now we need to show a bit of resilience to get through that and earn ourselves a shot at the trophy.”

Should the Blaze progress past South East Stars tomorrow, they will earn themselves a second shot at silverware this season – and indeed a repeat of June’s Charlotte Edwards Cup Final. It represents significant progress for the East Midlands side, in their first season with Nottinghamshire CCC as the Hosts of the region. For Gordon, there’s clear signs of progress regardless of how the season ends.

The Blaze celebrate a wicket in the 2022 domestic season

"We've done a lot of things right this season, it's been really positive - across both competitions - and it would be a nice way for us to round off the campaign to get to Northampton on Sunday and take part in the Final against the Southern Vipers. Obviously we'd love to go all the way, but our focus has to be on the Eliminator and earning ourselves a victory in tomorrow's game.”

Standing in their way tomorrow in Beckenham is South East Stars, who – like The Blaze – are desperate to put themselves in the hunt for their first Rachael Heyhoe Flint trophy.

Captain Bryony Smith said: "We're really excited about the Eliminator. We're one step closer to being in the Final and it's a chance to go one step further than we were able to last season.

"We've put in some really good performances at times this season, and we've had a lot of individuals put their hands up at different times, which is another big positive, and hopefully we've got two more big performances in us.”

The two teams last went head to head on September 10 when a century from Alice Davidson-Richards took the Stars to a comfortable victory, and Smith hopes that will be to her team’s benefit: "We played The Blaze earlier in the month and we put in a good performance so hopefully that can give us some confidence going into tomorrow's game at Beckenham. We'll be giving everything to try and make Sunday's final and give ourselves a chance to lift the trophy."

The Eliminator will start at 10:30am, with entry to Beckenham free for all spectators. The game will also be live-streamed on the South East Stars YouTube channel.

Tickets are still available at Northamptonshire for Sunday’s final here – which will be live-streamed on the ECB website and the participating team’s YouTube channels.