Loughborough Lightning v Northern Diamonds Charlotte Edwards Cup, Group A Saturday May 14 2022, 2.30pm
Haslegrave Ground, Loughborough University
Toss: Diamonds win it and opt to bat
Teams: Lightning - Kelly, Beaumont c, Bryce, Munro, Claridge w, T Graves, Ellis, Cleary, Higham, Gordon, Ballinger.
Diamonds: Glen, Winfield-Hill w, Armitage c, Hopkins, Kasperek, Langston, Smith, Turner, Levick, Marlow, Slater.
Match summary: Lauren Winfield-Hill’s superb 96 off just 51 balls ensured the Diamonds were always ahead of the game after posting an imposing 177-5 on an excellent pitch for batting under sunny skies in Loughborough.
Winfield-Hill had good support from Abi Glen and skipper Hollie Armitage, with the second-wicket partnership of 99 with the latter breaking the back of the Lightning attack.
In reply Lightning got off to a good start thanks to their England international Tammy Beaumont but despite her half-century, the Diamonds bowlers were able to bowl increasingly tightly and ensure the target was just too much for the hosts.
Report: Lauren Winfield-Hill’s brilliance at the top of the order saw Northern Diamonds shine in a 39-run victory over Loughborough Lightning in the opening round of the Charlotte Edwards Cup.
Winfield’s superb innings, which came off just 51 balls and was her highest score in T20, powered the visitors to a formidable total of 177-5 which proved too much for the hosts at a sun-drenched Haslegrave.
Winning the toss and opting to bat, Diamonds took full advantage of the conditions with an opening assault on the Lighting bowlers that they struggled to recover from for the remainder of the innings.
Each of the opening five overs went for double figures as Diamonds sailed past 50 with some powerful hitting from Winfield-Hill and Abi Glen.
Fellow opener Glen fell to a catch from Teresa Graves off Kirstie Gordon for 25 but it barely mattered as Hollie Armitage joined Winfield-Hill at the crease and the pair put on 99 for the second wicket with the Diamonds skipper offering valuable support with to the free-scoring opener.
Lightning had their chances and a drop on the boundary from Lucy Higham proved particularly costly as Winfield-Hill took full advantage by smashing three consecutive sixes off the unfortunate Kathryn Bryce in the very next over.
The England star looked to be easing her way to a century but fell four shot when she skied a delivery from Bryce to Bethan Ellis who took a fine running catch over her shoulder.
From 145-2 when Winfield-Hill departed in the 16th over the Diamonds innings faded somewhat with Leigh Kasperek (7), Phoebe Turner (0) and Beth Langston (1) departing in quick succession as only Armitage stood firm to finish unbeaten on 40.
Lightning’s reply got off to an excellent start with Marie Kelly and Tammy Beaumont full of running and deft stroke play if not the power hitting of Winfield-Hill.
The opening pair had reached 79 in the 11th over when Kelly advanced down the wicket and was bowled by Beth Langston for 46.
The run chase became even tougher when Kathryn Bryce was bowled by debutant Emma Marlow’s off-spin for four with Beaumont continuing to do her best with the odd boundary and some excellent scampering between the wickets.
Beaumont brought up her half century with a boundary off Kasperek in the 16th over and while she remained at the crease Lightning had a glimmer of a chance with the experienced England international looking in great form.
But it was not to be as Lightning’s chances were extinguished when Beaumont was bowled by Academy graduate Marlow for 59 in the next over leaving the run rate increasingly insurmountable with the hosts’ innings closing on 138-7.
Linsey Smith picked up a couple of wickets in the final over.
Turning point: Diamonds smashed double figures off each of the first five overs sent down by the Lightning bowlers to set the tone for a game in which the hosts were always playing catch up after the visitors produced such a powerful start.
Magic moment: Lauren Winfield-Hill’s innings was full of brilliant shots but the three consecutive sixes she hit off Lightning opener Kathryn Bryce summed up her dominance of the game.
Stat: Winfield-Hill’s 96 was her highest ever T20 score beating her previous best of 74.
What they said: "To play like that after a good break was really pleasing,” said Winfield-Hill.
“It was pretty much the all round performance from the girls - we put good runs on the board and then held our nerve and stayed calm with the ball.
"We knew if we just hung in there we could break the partnerships and that was about as good as we could have started really.
"I played how I always play. Sometimes you get off to a flyer and sometimes you don't but I wanted to back my strengths and it was in my area I just went after it.
"It was really enjoyable and nice to open with Abi Glen and guide a new player through that experience as well - it took the focus off me a bit as I was trying to keep calm and communicate with her. It was good fun.
"Over the winter I've worked on resting and spending some time with the family and chilling out. It was a case of best when fresh.
"It was an important break after my winter didn't go quite to plan. It was nice to have time at home and get a bit of perspective.”
What’s next: The Diamonds face cross-Pennine rivals Thunder at Sale at 1.30pm on Wednesday. Thunder lost their opening game today against Southern Vipers at Hove.