Hollie Armitage targeting the perfect game


Hollie Armitage had a simple message when asked what areas the Northern Diamonds are targeting for improvement following the opening two games of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.


The Diamonds have lost one, won one in the first two 50-over games.


Victory over the Loughborough-based Lightning at Kibworth on Monday, when the Diamonds defended 152 in a thriller, was Armitage’s first as permanent captain after her appointment only last month.


It was an impressive recovery from Saturday’s one-wicket defeat when Central Sparks recovered from 196-8 to chase down a target of 280.


“If we can marry together the batting from the first game and the bowling from the second, that would piece together a perfect game for us,” said Armitage.


“We need a couple of us from the top five to get a score and then let the bowlers do their thing.”


The Diamonds’ next opportunity to search for perfection comes on Saturday when they face winless Sunrisers at the Fenner’s ground in Cambridge (10.30am).


They sit bottom of the embryonic 50-over table having lost games to South East Stars on Saturday and North West Thunder on Monday.


Captained by wicketkeeper Amara Carr, they will have England players Fran Wilson and Mady Villiers available.


Safe to say, following defeat on Saturday, the manner of the victory over the Lightning - a game they could have easily lost - has left the Diamonds in buoyant mood ahead of their trip to Cambridgeshire.


Armitage said: “We didn’t perform how we wanted to with the bat before Jen (Jenny Gunn) and Macca (Alex MacDonald) built their partnership to get us to a competitive total.


“The bowlers held their nerve and battled through a couple of tough periods. All in all, it was a fantastic win.


“My brain was ticking all of the time! But the bowlers couldn’t have done any more for me.


“I was really proud of everyone.


“If we can defend scores of 150, we’re going to be really competitive across the summer. It was a great sign for us.”


Pending selection for England’s mid-June Test Match against India at Bristol, this is the final game in which Armitage will be able to call upon Katharine Brunt, Nat Sciver and Lauren Winfield-Hill.


All three have contributed significantly so far. Winfield-Hill scored a brilliant century opening the batting alongside Armitage in defeat against the Sparks at Emerald Headingley, while Brunt claimed four wickets against the Lightning alongside two wickets for Sciver.


But, even without the seam bowling prowess of Brunt and Sciver, Armitage is confident the Diamonds can flourish.


“You couldn’t ask for a couple of better bowlers to have in your side than Katherine and Nat, alongside Beth Langston and Jenny Gunn. And the spin of Katie Levick,” she added.


“Then there’s Linsey Smith and Phoebe Graham, who have both missed out at stages during the first two games.


“We have a fantastic bowling unit.”


Sunrisers were beaten by 135 runs at home to the Stars at Chelmsford on Saturday when they failed to chase down 325.


On Monday, it was a closer defeat away against Thunder at Chester Boughton Hall when they were bowled out for 211 chasing 248.


“Even when teams are going to be two defeats from two, they will still be competitive,” Armitage added. “We have said that all along given a full winter of training.


“You can’t be complacent. But if we show the fight we have done in the last game, we’ll be fine.”

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