By Linsey Smith
Reflecting on the summer, I would say it has been my best so far.
I have taken 31 wickets across all formats, have received a couple of awards from the Professional Cricketers Association over the last fortnight and have been signed to play for Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash.
But, more than that, I’m so proud of the whole Northern Diamonds team for getting to another two regional finals.
Obviously we didn’t get over the line, but we put in some good performances. There are definitely plenty of positives to take, and hopefully we can get some trophies back up North next year.
We don’t just rely on a couple of players - everyone has put in match-winning performances. We’ve really gelled as a group, and our results show that.
The defeat against the Vipers in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final a couple of Saturdays ago was really tough to take.
After the game, emotions were running high for everyone considering the position we’d found ourselves in - they were 109-7 chasing 184.
We were under par at halfway. But we showed the fight we’ve had all season. When our backs are against the wall, we don’t give up.
We got so close again, and it hurt. But we can keep building from these experiences.
Coming into the season, I had been recovering from a back injury. I said to Dani Hazell, ‘I feel a bit underdone, I don’t know how this is going to go’. But she showed full faith in me.
We put a lot of work in together over the winter, and it’s paid off. To be able to help the team get the wins we have, it’s been massive for me.
I was shocked when I heard about my selection in the Women’s PCA’s Team of the Year. To get that recognition is amazing. All the players in that team have had great years. To be amongst it is brilliant.
That was also followed by being named their September Player of the Month. I’m delighted.
My game has progressed significantly over the last 12 months.
I’m pretty open in saying that in 50-over cricket I’ve been written off a bit and pigeon-holed into a T20 player.
But I sat down with Dani and spoke about what I wanted to achieve. I said, ‘I want to be a threat in all formats’.
I hadn’t really been turning the ball and had been bowling a little bit like I used to when I was bowling my seam six or seven years ago. So we made a couple of subtle changes to my action.
I shortened my delivery stride, meaning I could get up and over and put more revs on the ball. It’s meant I’ve become a threat to both the outside and inside edge.
I guess now I feel like I am a genuine left-arm spinner.
One thing that has paved the way for the success I’ve had is feeling really comfortable in the environment, be it with the Diamonds or the Northern Superchargers.
Both teams have a lot of the same players and the same coach.
I really feel at home here. I know I’m not a local, but it’s certainly my home away from home.
The girls in the squad - contracted or not - the coaches, backroom staff, we all get on. It’s like a family environment, and an honest one as well. If people aren’t pulling their weight, we’ll be open and honest about that.
Taking five wickets in the Heyhoe Flint win over Western Storm at Durham has got to be my favourite moment of the season.
I don’t think I’ve ever taken a five-for as a spinner - not that I can remember anyway. It was a massive highlight, especially given what I’ve said about being pigeon-holed into a T20 bowler.
To be asked to open the batting in the final came as a shock.
Dani will be the first to tell you I’m always saying, ‘Come on, get me up the order’. I’d been doing it all season.
Then, the night before, she said, ‘Look, you’re going to open’. I was like, ‘Oh right, you do know I was only joking don’t you!’
But I absolutely loved it. I want to become a genuine all-rounder. She gave me a shot in the final, and hopefully I’ve shown a bit of what I can do.
To be able to walk out in a final alongside my best mate was amazing. Hollie (Armitage) really supported me throughout it. Fingers crossed, it might happen again.
The morning after the final was when the Stars made contact about the Big Bash, and I’m currently coming towards the end of my 14-day quarantine period in Adelaide.
It has been a hectic couple of weeks getting everything sorted.
To play in the Big Bash is something I’ve always wanted to do, and to have the opportunity is so exciting. It still doesn’t quite seem real.
I just want to enjoy it as much as possible.
I’m excited to be captained by Meg Lanning, and I’ll be trying to learn as much as I can.
Last year the Stars had a really good run to the final, and I reckon we can go one step further. I’m certainly confident I can contribute to that.
There’s four, five or six of us out here who are domestically contracted back home. So to get that recognition is fantastic for our structure.
It just shows if we keep progressing our domestic cricket, we can match Australia pretty quickly.
One of those is Vipers’ batter Maia Bouchier, who is also playing for the Stars. It’s nice to have another English girl in our team, but I’ll be making sure she keeps her Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy medal packed in her suitcase!