Bess Heath is relishing Northern Diamonds' showdown against Southern Vipers next week after booking a spot in the knockout stage of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy with a comfortable win over Thunder at Emirates Riverside.
The Diamonds were dominant in the contest over the Thunder as Heath top scored with an innings of 78 in the hosts' total of 294-5 from their 50 overs. The visitors were not able to come close to matching their efforts, allowing Hollie Armitage's side to ease to a 105-run victory, securing a top-three berth in the standings and with it a place in the knockout stage. It could have been even sweeter for the Diamonds, but a nail-biting win by the Vipers over Sunrisers kept them in first place ahead of the contest against the Diamonds. However, Heath and her team-mates know that a win over their rivals next week will see them edge out the Vipers for top spot and automatic place in Finals' Day. She said: "It was an excellent win for us and we're very excited for our game against the Southern Vipers next week. It's going to be an important game for us as it decides who is going to go straight into Finals' Day. "It's definitely going to be one to watch and we have to be up for the challenge. We've still got a few things to work on with our fielding and bowling, but we're all pretty relaxed out there. We've been pretty good since our return to 50-over action with two wins, and now we have to take that momentum into next week and then the knockout stage." Heath has admitted that her side felt in control of the contest against the Thunder from the off, despite being inserted by Alex Hartley at Emirates Riverside in cloudy conditions. Heath, Beth Langston and Sterre Kalis all scored half-centuries, while Ami Campbell also added 48 as the Diamonds fell just short of the 300-run mark, which proved to be more than enough to canter to victory. "It did feel as though it was six o'clock out there with the lights on, so that was quite bizarre." Heath added. "It was nice to get some runs out there as a team to build those partnerships. It was a great effort all down the line-up. "The good thing about our team is that we bat all the way down the line-up, it's a strength of ours and we were able to use it today to put almost 300 on the board. We managed to get those partnerships early and in the middle of the innings, and then that allowed Beth to come in and score those quick runs." "I got a couple of good shots away, but for me it was about getting out there and getting relaxed at the crease. You have to realise in the 50-over format you don't have to go at it from the first ball, you can bat yourself in. It is a bit of a change of mindset, but you can pick your moments and still bat with a positive intent."