by Courtney Winfield-Hill
Two bonus point wins in three days - what a superb way to recover from our loss in the final of the Charlotte Edwards Cup last weekend.
The great thing is that we now have another shot at a trophy in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint having qualified for the knockouts.
There would have been nothing worse than dropping that bottom lip, tripping over the last couple of games and not giving yourself a chance of playing in a final. But the girls were all switched on and right at it against the Western Storm on Friday and Thunder yesterday.
It’s now about us learning how to win those big games in the finals. When you do, hopefully you get momentum from it.
I truly believe winning is a habit, and it looks like they are starting to build that down there at the South East Stars given a number of their players were involved with the Oval Invincibles in the Hundred.
Even though it was a different competition, they would have certainly taken a lot from that into the latter stages of the Charlotte Edwards.
We just need to work really hard to flip our runners-up performances, which Dani Hazell and all the coaches are doing with the players.
We have players in our team who know how to win - the likes of Lauren, Hollie Armitage and Jenny Gunn. It’s just about ensuring that our young players across the squad start to experience wins in big occasions.
It can just be about that bit of bravery, creating your opportunities.
Look at Alice Capsey in the final against us. She did that with the way she played in what could have been a tricky situation when the Stars lost those four quick wickets with around 60 still needed chasing that 139.
It’s important our players are able to play under that bit more pressure, and they were able to do that really well in the semi-final against the Southern Vipers.
It was a shame they weren’t able to do that as well in the final against the South East Stars.
But conditions were very hot, and an hour in between games doesn’t give you too long to gather yourself, reflect and go again.
I’m not making excuses because, from watching the highlights, the Stars are a very good unit and looked like they were deserved winners.
This coming Saturday’s final Heyhoe Flint group game may not be a final against the Vipers, but it certainly has that feel with the winner advancing straight through to the final and avoiding the semi-final game.
As the senior girls were playing out Finals Day at Southampton, myself and a group of Academy players were completing the closing stages of the School Games down in Loughborough.
I managed to follow the first game online, although I didn’t see all that much. On the drive home, I listened to the radio comms of the final and got the full report when Lauren got home.
The School Games saw a number of the best Academy players from around the eight regions split across three teams, named after Katherine Brunt, Heather Knight and Nat Sciver.
They played a T20 tournament over three days, and it was unreal.
Ciara Boaden, Mary Butler, Grace Hall, Lucy Lindley, Emma Marlow, Lizzy Scott and Phoebe Turner were all involved from the Diamonds, and it was really interesting to see them go toe to toe with each other.
I was on a completely different team as well - I didn’t get to coach any of the girls.
It was a lovely experience for them to not only step up a level in competition, but for them to play alongside their peers from around the country and also work with different coaches.
The girls did really well and walked away with a lot more thought around their games.
The transition through our pathway and our structures is about so much more than just skill.
That was one of my comments to them at the start of it.
I said, ‘Girls, I’m not being rude, but I’m going to cut the chord over the next few days. I’m not going to talk to you, I’m not going to come near you’.
I wanted to invest fully in my team, and I wanted them to fully invest in theirs. I wanted them to go and be self-led. The ability to constantly adapt is super important.
As we get further into this new domestic structure, I think we’ll see a lot more movement around the regions - simply for opportunity. It might mean that some of the girls don’t work with coaches they’ve always worked with.
You have to form new relationships and have the courage to throw yourself out there. There were so many little wins on that basis.
Emma captained one of the teams - Team Knight - and did a really good job even though she walked off pretty grumpy after being defeated in the final by a Team Sciver including Ciara, Lucy and Lizzy.
It’s great to see them not only get opportunities with bat and ball, but also in a leadership capacity