Diamonds sign all-rounders Leigh Kasperek and Yvonne Graves

The Northern Diamonds are delighted to announce the signings of off-spinning all-rounders Leigh Kasperek and Yvonne Graves ahead of the 2022 regional summer.

New Zealand international Kasperek returns to Headingley as an overseas player having previously played for the Yorkshire Diamonds in the 2019 Kia Super League.

Kasperek links up with the Diamonds on May 1, while Yorkshire-born Graves arrives from regional rivals Lightning and has been training with the squad during the latter stages of the winter.

The bolstering of the squad comes ahead of the May 14 start to the regional summer, when Graves could actually come up against her former side, who include her twin sister Teresa, in the opening game of the Charlotte Edwards Cup at Loughborough.

Also moving up to the senior squad for this summer are homegrown Academy products Emma Marlow and Phoebe Turner, while the Diamonds have invited Associate nation duo Katherine Fraser and Mariko Hill - of Scotland and Hong Kong - to train at Headingley.

Kasperek, the Edinburgh-born 30-year-old, has 140 international wickets and just over 400 runs to her name and currently plays her domestic cricket with Wellington.

Graves, aged 23, has played domestic cricket for Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Lightning, scoring 538 runs and taking 14 wickets.

Diamonds director of cricket James Carr said: “We’re really pleased to get Leigh’s services back to the region. She has obviously played for Yorkshire Diamonds through the Kia Super League era, and I know Leigh very well myself through my days in Otago in New Zealand.

“She’s a great competitor and is a genuine all-rounder. It’s a bit unfair where she’s batted at international level at times because she’s got lots of ability with the bat.

“There’s a lot of spin in the women’s game, and in our squad. But we’re just adding some variety to that with both her and Yvonne signing as well.

“Katie Levick turns the ball away from the right-hander, as does Linsey Smith - albeit they’re different spinners. Hollie Armitage is a leg-spinner as well.

“Leigh’s signing works really well for all parties. You have to remember we’ve had some players move on to other regions. Having her extra experience on the field to support Hollie, Beth Langston and Jenny Gunn will be really good.

“She isn’t in the New Zealand side at the moment, so maybe she has a point to prove. But she’s a real fighter, and maybe we can give her that platform.

“Who knows, she might get a call for the Commonwealth Games, which is here in the UK later in the summer.”

Carr continued: “Yvonne wasn’t getting the opportunity she wanted at Lightning. She’s an off-spinner, but also a really good batter. Another all-rounder, which is what we’re looking for.

“She’s a real athlete who has spent her winter in South Africa. She’s knitted into the squad nicely over the last few weeks and is coming into her own.

“Yvonne is looking for more game time, which we feel we can offer. We’re really looking forward to seeing how she goes.”

Academy products Marlow, also an off-spinner who was the Coaches Academy Player of the Year in 2021, and all-rounder Turner will be hoping to replicate recent success to senior level.

“The work Courtney Winfield-Hill has done has been phenomenal over the last 18 months since we installed the Academy,” said Carr.

“We’ve brought players in from other regions like Jenny Gunn and Linsey Smith, and we’re supporting players from elsewhere like Katherine and Mariko.

“But we’ve produced two of our own who have worked their way up into the senior squad.

“Emma will continue to play Academy cricket if required, but we want the two squads to work closely. Phoebe had a good recent Regional Academy Festival down in Somerset. We’re hugely excited by their progression.”

And on having Fraser and Hill train with the squad, Carr added: “They’ve both trained with us over the winter, and we’ll look to continue to support their development in being around the squad.

“They both have other things on. Katherine is 17, she’s still at school. Her education is important to her and us. Mariko has a full-time job, but she can work anywhere in the world.

“She’s been stuck in the UK as a result of Covid and sought after us as a result of having previously worked with Richard Waite (Diamonds assistant coach) when he was with Hong Kong Cricket.

“It’s been great for her to be around the squad. She bowls big in-duckers, which we’ll face a lot of this summer from the likes of Lauren Bell and a few others.

“It’s good to have players like that around our squad, contributing to our culture in a positive way. It works for both parties.”


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