Phoebe Graham has very much taken the ‘glass half full’ view to her omission from the Northern Diamonds team in the early stages of the summer and is now ready and raring to go ahead of her return to action.
Fast bowler Graham is set to feature in Saturday’s key clash with South East Stars at Emerald Headingley (10.30am) having missed out on the opening three games with England seam options Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver available.
Contracted player Graham admits to disappointment at missing out, of course, but she said: “You just can’t argue with it can you when you’ve got four international seamers ahead of you in Katherine, Nat, Beth Langston and Jenny Gunn.
“It would be disappointing for anyone in the squad not to be starting, but you can’t fault the reasons why.
“I’ve taken it as a learning experience, sitting with Katherine in the dugout and listening to her wisdom.
“I think I’ve used the weeks as well as I can, mentally as much as anything.
“That’s been through picking the brains of Katherine and Nat and also having that strong belief that I’m still good enough to be in the eleven and take wickets throughout the season.
“It’s been a strange few weeks, but it can be an advantage now that I’m even fresher and raring to go.
“I’m really looking forward to getting on the pitch and playing.”
With Brunt and Sciver back on England duty, 29-year-old Graham is on course to face the Stars who, like the Diamonds, have won two of their opening three matches so far.
The Diamonds are second, four points behind leaders Central Sparks (13). The Stars also have nine, but they sit third courtesy of an inferior net run-rate to Saturday’s hosts.
Three teams qualify for the knockouts. The top team advances straight to the final at the end of the season, while second and third play off in an effective semi-final.
The race is already hotting up, with the Diamonds, Stars and Southern Vipers level on nine points behind the unbeaten Sparks.
This is the final game before a break for the start of the Regional T20 competition and then the Hundred, heightening its importance even more.
Both sides have been affected by England call-ups for next week’s Test Match against India.
While the Diamonds also lose Lauren Winfield-Hill, the Stars will be without Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley and Tash Farrant.
“It’s a top of the table clash, and we haven’t played the Stars before,” said Graham. “So it’s going to be exciting to come across some new players. I’m really looking forward to it.
“We also have some work to do at Headingley to redeem ourselves from the first game defeat against the Sparks because we all love playing there.”
Graham claimed two wickets in five RHF Trophy appearances last summer, though more impressive was her economy rate of 3.87 runs per over. There is no doubt, she created pressure for other bowling colleagues to benefit from.
Now, as a contracted player and someone who the Diamonds coaches say has put on pace, she is aiming to build on those performances on the back of a full winter’s training.
“Last season was my foundation,” she added. “And I just understand my own game better now.
“Prior to this contracted set-up, I just used to play cricket and enjoy it. Whereas now, I know how to apply myself much better and am more tactically aware.
“That’s what I’m most looking forward to, taking what I’ve learnt from this winter and the last few weeks into the games.”
Secure tickets to watch the Northern Diamonds take on South East Stars in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Emerald Headingley this Saturday. Tickets are priced at £5 adults and £1 juniors.