Hollie Armitage is targeting more top order runs for the Northern Diamonds, including herself, as they bid to find top gear during the season finale.
The Diamonds are firmly in the mix to win both regional trophies in 2021, and will hope to have secured a place at Finals Day in the Charlotte Edwards Cup by the end of the Bank Holiday weekend.
They are three points clear at the top of Group Two in the T20 competition having won three of their four games so far.
There are two more to play, against third-placed Western Storm at Durham’s Emirates Riverside tomorrow (2.30pm) and against second-placed Thunder at Chester Boughton Hall on Monday. Both teams have nine points with a possible 10 to play for, including bonus points.
Only the top team in each of the two groups guarantees qualification for Finals Day in Southampton on September 5, while the best second-placed finisher also qualifies. At this stage, that looks likely to come from Group One.
The Diamonds have won six out of eight games combined in both the Charlotte Edwards Cup and the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
But only two of those have been achieved ‘drama free’ - both against Sunrisers away from home.
They bowled them out for 54 and won by nine wickets in an RHF Trophy game at Cambridge before chasing 117 to win by eight wickets in the CE Cup at Chelmsford.
One of the Diamonds’ most impressive qualities is their ability to bounce back from adversity.
Wednesday’s Charlotte Edwards win against Sunrisers at South Northumberland was the prime example of something they have done regularly this season.
They were 32-5 before recovering to 120-6 and defending it.
But they cannot rely on that all the time.
“We have been short of runs,” said captain Armitage.
“And it comes down to me and the others up there to make sure we’re contributing heavily. That’s something we’re really looking to improve.
“We’re just still working out what’s best for us as players.
“I think we just need to get up and down the wicket more regularly rather than just hitting boundaries early on. If we go back to the basics a bit more, hopefully something will click in the next couple of games.
“By the way our middle order are batting at the minute, maybe they should go to the top!
“Joking aside, I’m backing us to come good. I’m confident it will happen.”
Armitage, who opens the batting, has had a frustrating season.
After some excellent early form in county cricket for Yorkshire, she has only posted a top-score of 21 in 11 innings for either the Diamonds or her Hundred team, the Northern Superchargers.
“I love captaining and contributing in that way. But, personally, I know I have to be doing it with the bat as well. It’s not really been good enough from me,” she continued.
“It’s been a funny summer. I’ve felt really good off the field and then it just hasn’t happened for me on it.
“But, putting that aside, we are still winning games. Hopefully my form will come back in this back end of the season.
“We’ve put on some really good bowling performances. We have a brilliant and experienced attack. When we go out there, I believe we can defend any total. That puts us in a good position.”
Returning to the subject of the Diamonds’ ability to fight back in games, Armitage has given an insight into the reasons why.
“One thing we do very well is enjoy each other’s success and company,” she said. “We are not just team-mates, we enjoy each other’s friendship away from the game. That brings us even closer together.”
If the Diamonds complete the double over the Storm tomorrow - they beat them by one wicket in a thriller at Taunton last month - they would qualify for Finals Day if Thunder lost their game against Sunrisers at Northampton.
If Thunder beat Sunrisers, the race goes into Monday when the cross-Pennine rivals meet at Chester.
“I just kind of think, ‘Win them both and we’re guaranteed’,” added Armitage. “That’s what we’re looking to do.”
England star Lauren Winfield-Hill was rested on Wednesday following what she described as an “intense” Hundred competition. Her return this weekend is possible, though not guaranteed.