Armitage hoping to make it third time lucky

Two Regional trophies completed, two final appearances. The Northern Diamonds are now bidding to ensure it is third time lucky for them over the next two-and-a-half weeks.

Last summer’s beaten finalists in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint 50-over Trophy suffered the same fate on Sunday in the Charlotte Edwards T20 Cup at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl when South East Stars claimed the honours by five wickets chasing 139.

Now, attentions turn to the resumption of this season’s 50-over Heyhoe Flint Trophy, in which the Diamonds are very handily placed after four of their seven group fixtures.

“We’ve got another trophy in sight now,” said a defiant captain Hollie Armitage.

“We park the T20 and move on to our next challenge, which is getting to this 50-over final.”

That bid starts up again tomorrow against Western Storm at Durham’s Emirates Riverside (10.30am). It is the first match of this competition since June 12 when Diamonds beat the Stars by three wickets chasing 251 at Emerald Headingley.

The Diamonds are second in the eight-team table with three wins from four games and 13 points, one behind leaders Southern Vipers and level on points but ahead of third-placed Central Sparks courtesy of a marginally better net run-rate.

The top team advances directly to the final at Northampton on September 25, while the second and third-placed teams face off in a semi-final eliminator clash at the team in second’s home venue on September 22.

There was obvious disappointment on Sunday, but that can be used as a positive, believes Armitage: “It gives us extra motivation, definitely,” she said.

“We had our eyes on two trophies at the start of the year, and we’ve got really close to getting one of them. It wasn’t to be, but hopefully we can go one better in the second.

“Credit to our girls, they fought really hard on Sunday. But you also have to credit the Stars for the way they played in chasing that target (139).

“They are a young and talented side, and I think they are one to watch out for.”

Armitage admitted that playing two games in the day contributed to their downfall at the Ageas.

“It was pretty much like we were in Sri Lanka. Where did that weather come from?!” she smiled, following the unseasonably hot weather.

“It was a challenge, but we are professionals now and we have to be able to cope with it.”

But there is more of that kind of thing to come as tomorrow is the first of two games in three days, with Thunder also visiting Durham on Sunday.

The Diamonds will make a late call on the fitness of one of their stars of the aforementioned last RHF Trophy win - against the Stars - Beth Langston.

Seam bowling all-rounder Langston missed the Diamonds last four Charlotte Edwards Cup games with a quad injury.

Against the Stars at Headingley, she finished 59 not out and, alongside Jenny Gunn’s 50, led a revival from 160-6 and 209-7 chasing 251.

The Storm are all but out of contention having won just one of their four games so far. They sit second bottom on four points. Even three wins are unlikely to be enough for qualification.

But the Diamonds will be wary, with the Storm having beaten them at Durham in the latter stages of the Charlotte Edwards T20 group stage late last month.

For the Diamonds and captain Armitage, though, the goal is clear.

“It was a real honour to lead this side at Finals Day,” she added. “It’s something I’ve not done before, and it was a nice feeling.

“Hopefully, as I say, we can go one better over the next few weeks and also again when the T20s come around next year.”


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