Heath On Going Pro

Not only does the hard work start now for Bess Heath after earning her maiden professional contract with the Northern Diamonds, her brother Tom might also have a bit more on his plate.

Heath, a wicketkeeper batter from Chesterfield, was one of the four newly contracted players announced by the Diamonds late last month.

Heath joins Sterre Kalis, Katie Levick and close friend Rachel Slater as new pros at Headingley, while captain Hollie Armitage, Jenny Gunn, Beth Langston and Linsey Smith were all retained.

Twenty-year-old Heath will have to give up her job as a tree surgeon in her father Philip’s family business: “He’s losing an employee, which means my brother will have to step up and work a bit harder!” she laughed.

The summer just gone was mixed for the powerful right-hander.

The first half of it through until the Hundred was heavily disrupted by a hip injury before she found form late on with the Diamonds - so much so that the end of the season probably came too soon for her.

In her last eight innings across both T20 and 50-over cricket, she posted scores of 58 not out, 32 not out, 78 not out, 71 and 25.

“I came into form, and my mindset changed with how I was playing,” she said. “I got a bit of a confidence boost through some runs on the board.

“I didn’t have a contract on my mind at any stage through the season, really, and didn’t think I’d be getting one.

“I try not to think about what’s going to happen in the future, I just try to deal with the present.

“With the injury, it was a tough one and a bit unexpected. It came about through playing a game, and I thought I’d be a week out and then back in again. But it was a bit more serious than that.

“Going straight into the Hundred with the Superchargers, it was exciting but full on.

“I was just glad I could get some runs on the board towards the end of the season.”

Now that she has turned pro, she is hoping to carry that late season form into 2022.

“To be able to have a squad which has half of the players contracted is very exciting,” she continued.

“It just allows us to focus more on cricket rather than working and having it as your hobby. The standard can only then progress as you don’t have two things on your mind.”

Heath’s journey to being full-time with the Diamonds is a fascinating one.

She first represented Derbyshire at cricket, but has also played rugby union to a very good standard and had a choice to make.

“It’s always been a juggle between cricket and rugby for me,” she explained.

“I had a couple of years out from rugby. I went out to Australia to play a bit of cricket and to travel over there. Then, when I got back I wanted to give rugby a go and see how far I could get. And then, unfortunately, Covid hit.

“This would have been my comeback year, but I took the decision to go with cricket and give that my full focus.

“I love the game and would have been silly to turn the opportunity to play with the Diamonds down.

“I was in the Midlands for Under 15s and with the county stuff for rugby.

“I think it was three years ago now. After we got through to a final, a Worcester Warriors coach came and said, ‘Come for a trial’. But I had to turn it down because I was going out to Australia.

“It was a tough decision, but I decided to go with cricket. I’m glad I did.”

There was some sort of silver lining to Heath’s injury in the fact that her replacement with the Diamonds was England legend Sarah Taylor for a handful of games before the Hundred.

“I did have a couple of training sessions with her, and it was great for me to be able to watch how she does things,” said Heath.

“She’s got a bit of a different way to me, but the way she goes about it is world-class. She helped with bits and bobs of technical stuff.

“She’s a lovely person, and I’m sure if I called her in the future and said, ‘I’m struggling with this, do you have any tips?’, I’m sure she’d help out.”

While Heath will have to give up her day job as a tree surgeon, one thing she will continue to do is indulge her passion for restoring old vehicles.

“I was home schooled, and during that one of my projects was to rebuild a lightweight Land Rover,” she added. “I did that for a few years. It took me a while!

“We’ve always had a Land Rover in the family, so I like to buy a bit of a run down one, do it up and sell it on.

“I’m looking at the moment to buy a Long wheelbase van and turn it into a camper. I do like to keep my hand in with that kind of thing.”

From a Diamonds point of view, however, they need not worry about old Land Rovers. If Heath’s late season form is anything to go by, they could have a Rolls Royce of a player on their hands.


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