Katie Levick has a chance to create history when she returns to represent Yorkshire in the Vitality Women’s County T20 competition, starting this weekend.
The Sheffield-born leg-spinner is within 14 wickets of reaching 200 taken in senior county appearances alone, excluding performances for the Yorkshire and Northern Diamonds teams.
It is thought that should Levick reach the milestone, with up to eight games available between Monday and May 8, she will become the first player ever to do it in county appearances alone.
Unfortunately, such a record is difficult to verify, but the 30-year-old became the leading wicket-taker in the history of the Women’s County Championship in May 2018 when she claimed her 153rd wicket for Yorkshire.
“I remember the day well,” said Levick. “We played at Kent on the Sunday and Middlesex on the Monday.
“It was weird because only a handful of people knew. And I only did because CricketHer, the blog, tweeted about it at the start of the weekend saying that if I took one wicket, I’d become the leading Championship wicket-taker.
“I didn’t get any wickets in the Kent game, and I thought, ‘Oh god, it’s going to hang over me’. But I got one against Middlesex.
“I got my first ever Yorkshire wicket against Middlesex as well (in 2008), so it felt like a good full circle moment.”
No bowler in modern day times has matched Levick’s haul in county cricket, not Katherine Brunt, not Anya Shrubsole or even Jenny Gunn, the latter who has taken just over 500 wickets for all teams during her incredible career.
Further back, former Yorkshire bowler, the late Mary Duggan, for example, who remains the world’s leading Test wicket-taker with 77, matched Levick’s current haul of 186 in all her appearances for Middlesex and Yorkshire between 1948 and 1963.
“County milestones like that are not things you can set yourself as career goals because you have no idea how many matches you are going to play,” said Levick. “The schedule can change year on year.
“When I first started, we were playing eight matches a year. So to get anywhere close to 200 is not something I ever thought of.
“It would be lovely to get there, an unexpected tick box for my career.”
The Northern Diamonds contracted player is back with Yorkshire, whose first of three T20 double header days pits them against North East Warriors (10.30am) and Cumbria (1.30pm) at Whitburn Cricket Club on Monday.
The Vitality Women’s T20 competition sees all teams split into eight groups, who are aiming to qualify for a regional Finals Day on May 8 - the Northern one hosted in Lancashire.
“That would make it all the sweeter if we could get there and win it!” said Levick.
Yorkshire are grouped alongside Lancashire, Cumbria, North East Warriors, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and a Northern Representative XI. The top four qualify for Finals Day.
“It’s a tricky little league we have,” she continued.
“Lancashire will include a lot of the Thunder girls, and the North East Warriors will have a few of the Diamonds girls in as well.
“We’ll be taking on some team-mates in the first game, but it will be good competitive cricket.
“I’ve always loved playing for Yorkshire. Even when I pulled out of the England set-up, I was still desperate to play.
“I haven’t played much county stuff in recent years. We lost the full season to Covid, I only played once last year. So it’s really nice to have the prospect of representing the White Rose again.
“We’re always striving for trophies with Yorkshire.
“We got that one County Championship in 2015, but we came runners-up every year after that.
“It was always frustrating because we were a good team. And that trend seems to have continued with the Diamonds now.
“When they changed the county set-up, we thought it would be more of a friendly programme. So to actually have a Finals Day to aim for puts a lot of importance on it. We’re all competitive girls, and we want to win.”
In her 137th Yorkshire appearance, Levick will be captained by fellow Diamond Beth Langston, while Hollie Armitage will also play and potentially Bess Heath, who is an injury doubt.
New coach Mark Harrison was hoping to be able to call upon seamer Rachel Slater, but she is definitely out through injury.
Asked whether the 200-wicket milestone was the forefront of her mind, Levick laughed: “Well, I wasn’t thinking about it until you mentioned it!
“I won’t be putting too much pressure on myself. It’s T20 cricket, so picking up a lot of wickets is a big ask.
“It’s more important to win games and make sure the ball’s coming out nicely to get into form for the Diamonds games.
“Look, it will be in the back of my mind. You can’t forget things like that - and it would be sweet. It would also be a nice way to kick-start the year.”