Jenny Gunn delighted to be on winning side in tense finish

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, naaah, Jenny, Jenny Gunn, Jenny Gunn, Jenny, Jenny Gunn!

That was the song echoing around the Diamonds’ dressing room at Durham this evening after the England legend played a pivotal role in securing a heart-stopping one-wicket victory over Lightning.

In pursuit of 200 to win their fourth straight game in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, the Diamonds encountered choppy water.

At various stages, you could have built a strong case for the Loughborough-based side being favourites. Perhaps not quite at 131-5 when Gunn strode to the crease, but certainly at 142-6 and 162-7. Maybe even 184-8, possibly 197-9 too.

But Gunn is a dab hand at dealing with such pressure.

So often has she dug her side out of trouble - think Western Storm at Taunton last year, South East Stars at Headingley as well - the all-rounder probably carries a spade in her kitbag.

When Katie Levick hit the winning run in the final over here at the Seat Unique Riverside, Gunn was 41 not out off 77 balls.

She richly deserved the acclaim of her adoring team-mates and said: “What a game. Whoever won, it was a great game of cricket.

“To be on the winning side it is a brilliant feeling. It was certainly tense.

“It was a team performance all round, and it was great to be out there when Lev hit the winning run.”

Gunn, 36-years-old, soaked up all the pressure the feverish Lightning had to throw at her on a used Riverside pitch which got slower and lower as the day wore on.

She smiled: “Sometimes the opposition fires me up. Somebody said I’d played for 50 years. I was like, ‘Yeah, fine, get me out and you’ll be alright won’t you!’”

The Diamonds are now in a fabulous position to qualify for the latter stages of this competition, which now breaks until September for the Commonwealth Games and then the Hundred.

They are second on 17 points, one behind leaders and champions Southern Vipers with three games remaining and them still to play.

The top team qualifies directly for the September 25 final at Lord’s, while second and third play off in an effective semi-final. They are eight points clear of fourth placed Western Storm with only 15 more available.

“We just need to keep winning,” said Gunn.

“We’ve got a great balance of experience and youth, but it shows how they’re developing that they can come in and contribute in such a situation. Phoebe Turner did, Emma Marlow as well at the end. Tip and run was what was required.

“They showed experience on young heads.

“Knowing that we’ve been there before helped. Knowing we had Lev at 11 as well. We bat one to 11, and we believe in each other.

“I didn’t have to turn runs down, and Lev hit the winning run. She said it was the biggest run of her life - like her Jack Leach moment.

“It shows that the lower order asking to bat against their fellow bowlers in practice works. You never know. Yes you want the batters to do it, but you can be the hero.

“We just stayed in the fight there. That run-rate was never an issue, and that was thanks to Hollie Armitage and Lauren Winfield-Hill early on. They got us way ahead of the rate.

“Hollie had said when we came off the field, ‘Bat 50 overs and we win the game’. We didn’t want it to go quite that deep, but the wicket got slower and lower and Lightning bowled well on it.”

There were many contributors to today’s victory, clearly Gunn chief among them. But captain Armitage had an outstanding day as well. The skipper claimed two wickets with her leg-spin, captained the side superbly and then contributed an important 20 with the bat early in the chase.

“Hollie captained us so well,” added Gunn. “She was brilliant out there. She’s a proper leader. Whatever she does, we believe in her wholeheartedly.

“Everything she did worked today. She brought herself on, struck straightaway and took two key wickets. She realised there was a chance to put our foot on the throat and she brought Linsey Smith on - and she struck.

“Holl’s a very smart and talented captain who is going places.”

Meanwhile, the Diamonds Academy made it a special day for the region with a three-run win on DLS over Thunder in the Regional Academy Festival at Shrewsbury School.

Captain Grace Hall contributed 64 not out to 178-7 in 50-overs before Thunder were bowled out for 175 in reply. Trudy Johnson claimed four wickets.