PREVIEW: Diamonds Brimming With Confidence

Katie Levick says the Northern Diamonds are brimming with confidence ahead of Sunday’s Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 Finals Day at the Ageas Bowl, especially her bowling colleagues.

The Sheffield-born leg-spinner is relishing the prospect of playing for the Diamonds first piece of silverware, including the old Kia Super League (Yorkshire Diamonds) as well as the ongoing regional structure.

The Diamonds will play off in the midday semi-final against home side Southern Vipers for the right to face South East Stars in the 4pm final.

The semi is a repeat of last year’s 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final at Edgbaston, which the Vipers won: “We’ll try and get some glory back following last year,” said Levick. “It would be nice to get one over them and get to the final.”

The confidence in the Diamonds camp comes from a couple of reasons.

One is the way they qualified for Finals Day with a bonus-point win over Thunder at Chester on Monday.

They chased down 91 for the loss of two wickets in double quick time to finish top of Group Two on net run-rate ahead of Western Storm, who had started the final day of group action top of the table.

“We’ve been winning games somehow, and we’ve been saying that when it all clicks we’ll really dominate a side,” said Levick. “On Monday, that happened. It gives us massive momentum heading into Sunday.”

Another is the quality of their bowling attack, in which Levick plays a huge part - she has taken seven wickets in six CE Cup appearances.

It is accepted the Diamonds haven’t played their best cricket this year, largely through not getting enough top order runs on the board.

But the lower order has generally managed to get them to a score which has regularly been defended by some excellent bowling.

“As part of the bowling unit, and I don’t want to sound too big-headed here, we refer to ourselves as ‘world-class’,” said Levick, with a chuckle.

“You have to be your own biggest fan, don’t you!

“We back ourselves to defend any total.

“The experience we’ve got in Jenny Gunn, Linsey Smith, Phoebe Graham, Beth Langston, Alex MacDonald and myself, plus the younger ones coming in like Rachel Slater, it all adds to significant selection issues with so many options.

“It’s a lovely place to be in when you have to leave quality out.

“Across all formats this year, we’ve shown time and time again that the bowling is our super- strength.”

Having won their opening three matches in Group One, the Vipers lost the next two immediately after the Hundred before scraping into the semi-final by edging past Lightning off the last ball on Sunday chasing 125.

They have lost key players to England - Danni Wyatt, Charlie Dean and Maia Bouchier, while Covid issues had also struck them.

“As long as we turn up on the day, we back ourselves against anyone,” said Levick.

“We started this year saying, ‘All we want to do is get some silverware’. This is our first opportunity to do that.

“There’s no one we’ve really struggled against this year. It’s our own skills which have let us down rather than another team really beating us.”

The Diamonds are the odd ones out between two Southern sides at Finals Day on Sunday.

In fact, the North has taken a bit of a battering in domestic limited overs cricket this season - men’s and women’s.

Glamorgan won the Royal London Cup, while four Southern teams have qualified for the Vitality Blast Finals Day later this month.

In the Hundred, the Oval Invincibles won the women’s competition and Southern Brave the men’s.

Lauren Winfield-Hill, who is available for Sunday, said recently she was fed up of all the teams from the South dominating women’s domestic cricket.

The Vipers, Storm and Surrey Stars shared four Kia Super League titles, for example, before the Vipers success in last year’s RHF Trophy to start a new era of regional cricket.

It is something which needs changing, and Levick also tweeted about it earlier this week.

“Northern team in a T20 Finals Day klaxon,” she wrote. “Any Northerners that have relocated down south, come along and support us (on Sunday). For the North!”

In the build-up to Sunday, she added: “My tweet was spurred on a bit by the fact the men’s T20 competition has been dominated by four southern teams.

“Historically, the North has been neglected on the women’s side as well. But us getting to the Heyhoe Flint final last year and Finals Day on Sunday, we’re very much driven by the goal to help put the North back on the map.”


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