Preview: Lightning vs Northern Diamonds

Jenny Gunn believes last season’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy win over the Lightning at Leicester was a big moment for the development of this Northern Diamonds squad.

Former England all-rounder Gunn was the star of the show at Grace Road last September with 2-45 and then an unbeaten 50 as the Diamonds, chasing 227, recovered from 119-7 to win by two wickets.

It was their third win on the trot in their first season of competition, but notably their first without England players Katherine Brunt, Nat Sciver and Lauren Winfield-Hill available for selection after they had played a significant part in the opening two victories over Central Sparks at Edgbaston and Lightning at Durham.

Gunn has been reflecting on that game as the Diamonds prepare to return to Leicestershire for the same fixture tomorrow, but this time at Kibworth Cricket Club (10.30am).

The 35-year-old shared partnerships of 81 for the eighth wicket with Beth Langston last September and then 29 with unbroken with Phoebe Graham for the ninth wicket.

The win helped the Diamonds qualify for last season’s RHF Trophy final, which they lost to Southern Vipers at Edgbaston.

“It was a special moment for a few reasons, both for me and the team,” said Gunn.

“I’ve played for Loughborough in the old KSL, so it was nice to get one over them. But it was also a big win for us in the grand scheme of things.

“It definitely showed what we’re made of as a side.

“It was a strange game that. I dislocated my finger in the game, which is why I batted down at eight. I couldn’t play through the off-side. So I just had to stay there.

“I had Beth alongside me, who has played at the top level and knew we could run anybody ragged with singles.

“At not one point did I think, ‘We’re in the mire here’. We bat right down to eleven with Katie Levick being very, very capable as well. We back everybody, which is the environment we are creating here.”

This time the Diamonds travel to the East Midlands with Brunt, Sciver and Winfield-Hill available.

“What great England girls to have,” continued Gunn. “I’m still learning from them, never mind the younger girls.

“We have them for a few games yet. We’ll try and take everything we can from that and then hopefully kick on when they’ve gone back to international duty like we did last year.”

But they travel on the back of an opening round defeat to Central Sparks at Emerald Headingley yesterday when the visitors recovered from 196-8 in the 41st over to chase down 280.

Winfield-Hill scored a century, as did England team-mate Amy Jones for the Sparks.

The Lightning, meanwhile, were beaten by four wickets by champions Vipers yesterday. Tammy Beaumont top-scored for them with 57.

While last season’s win over the Lightning was significant for the Diamonds, another win in the East Midlands could be just as important for a different reason - to quickly put yesterday’s defeat behind them.

And Gunn, despite her role as a guiding hand for the younger players, remains as keen as ever to win games.

“You can lose and learn quickly, but nothing beats winning,” she added.

“I would not play cricket if I didn’t want to win. There’s always that competition.

“It has always run right through my family, right down to my six-year-old nephew now.

“I’m desperate for us to go one better than last year, and I think we can in this competition and the T20 as well.

“We got to the final last year, and it was a shame we didn’t perform on the day. But we have a lot more experience now. We’ve played in a final on a big ground, and we’ve had a whole winter of training.”


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