‘Go and be a hero’ is Hollie Armitage’s message for her Northern Diamonds players ahead of tomorrow’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final.
The Diamonds are super confident that this is their time to shine as they prepare to meet old foes Southern Vipers at Northampton’s Wantage Road (10.30am).
The Vipers are the defending champions in the RHF Trophy, having beaten the Diamonds in last season’s final at Edgbaston.
The pair have since traded blows in this season’s Charlotte Edwards Cup semi-final and the group stage of this 50-over competition, and there is a genuine rivalry developing between the two.
“For us, different people are stepping up at the right time,” said Armitage. “That’s what makes this team really exciting.
“It’s not just one player who’s doing it all the time. It’s a number of players.
“Whoever sticks their hands up on Saturday, it’s going to be really special day for them. And it could be somebody completely different.
“Everybody wants it to be them - I want it to be me.
“I want to be the one who takes this team over the line with the bat. Going forward, that’s what I want to be doing. But if the team’s winning, that’s all that matters.”
Ami Campbell is the perfect illustration of Armitage’s point that anyone could do the job.
Here is a left-handed batter who has struggled for form and fitness through the summer, but she has started to find form during the last couple of weeks and picked the perfect time to hit a season’s best 76 in Wednesday’s semi-final eliminator against the Central Sparks.
“I’m super proud of the girls,” said Armitage in reference to that game. “Our performance just showed what a good team we are.
“The bowlers set the tone really well. We picked up three wickets in the power play. Then, credit to Ami and Sterre (Kalis), they got us home.”
The Diamonds will make a late call on the fitness of talismanic all-rounder Jenny Gunn, who has missed the last fortnight with a calf injury.
They are aiming to make it third time lucky having reached all three regional finals so far without winning either of the previous two.
“We don’t want to be known as a team who keeps making the final and doesn’t get over the line,” said Armitage.
“The Vipers will be a really big challenge. Coming up against them earlier this week (losing in the final group game at the Ageas Bowl last Saturday), they’re a good team. It will be a good battle between the two sides.
“They are a strong bowling and batting unit with key players who we will do our analysis on.
“But, in finals, anything can happen. Hopefully it’s us on the right side of it.”
The pressure will clearly be on on Saturday - for both sides. But it is important Armitage and co enjoy the occasion.
“We do have to enjoy it on Saturday, and we will,” she said, adding that her first season as full-time captain has been challenging but rewarding.
“It’s our last game of the season. We really have the fire and hunger to bring that trophy home.”
“I’ve enjoyed this year. It’s been a mixture of emotions, but given the group of girls and the support staff we’ve got it’s been hard not to have fun.
“Even when times have been tough, that’s what has pulled us through.”
The Vipers are expected to be without key batter Maia Bouchier after she was drafted into England’s squad earlier this week to cover the remainder of the ongoing series against New Zealand.
Their in-form player is currently Test batter Georgia Elwiss, who has scored 112 not out and 84 not out in her last two innings, the latter in the final group game against the Diamonds at the Ageas Bowl last Saturday.
She said: “We're desperate to defend the title. We know that being in the final is not enough, and that it’s another game where we have to start again.
"I suppose there’s the added motivation for us to bring the trophy home again, but we know it’s going to be a difficult game.”