Preview: Northern Diamonds vs Thunder

Previous fightbacks from positions of difficulty within games have given the Northern Diamonds confidence they can still reach next month’s Charlotte Edwards Cup Finals Day.

The Diamonds have lost two of their opening group fixtures to undermine their hopes of qualification.

This fightback would be on a grander scale than just recovering in one-off games, which they on a number of occasions last season, but three successive wins would give them a good chance. Their task starts against Thunder at Headingley on Sunday morning (11am).

“It’s been a narrative of the Diamonds, recovering from losing positions and clawing it back through the likes of Jenny Gunn, Beth Langston and Linsey Smith,” said Diamonds director of cricket James Carr.

“The last two games have actually been a reverse of that. We’ve been in two commanding positions and let them slip. But we are very determined to turn to put those wrongs right this weekend.”

Thunder and Diamonds, with five points apiece, share identical records in second and third in Group B and are separated only by the Thunder’s superior net run-rate.

Only the top team in each of the two groups qualifies plus the best second-placed finisher.

With three games remaining and a maximum of five points for a win, they are nine behind leaders Southern Vipers (14). Group A is headed by Central Sparks on 13, while South East Stars - the reigning champions - are second with eight points.

After beating Lightning on the opening day, the Diamonds have since lost to Thunder and Southern Vipers.

If they are to avenge the loss to Thunder at Sale (May 18), they will have to do it without England trio Katherine Brunt, Nat Sciver and Lauren Winfield-Hill.

Winfield-Hill remains sidelined with a quad injury, which isn’t as bad as first feared, while Brunt and Sciver are getting married tomorrow.

There are other injuries to contend with. Rachel Slater, for example, is a doubt with a knee injury ahead of what would be her first ever game at Headingley, while the likes of Jenny Gunn and Beth Langston remain sidelined.

Hong Kong international all-rounder Mariko Hill has been registered and could debut.

“First of all, we have to get this win on the board,” said Carr. “And if we can get a bonus point point, we’re right back in it. We just can’t look back too much, we have to look forward at the job in hand.

“A trans-Pennine match gets everyone going. I know, strictly speaking, we’re not Yorkshire and Lancashire, but there are lots of Yorkies and Lankies playing in the fixture to get that rivalry going.

“Mariko has come back from Fairbreak, and we’ve registered her after training with us through the winter.

“She’s got a British passport and is what they would describe as competition qualified, though not England qualified because she is currently playing for Hong Kong and resides there.

“She’s 26 and is a mature, experienced campaigner in terms of Associate cricket. She has captained her country.

“She held her own at Fairbreak and will, I think, blend nicely into T20 cricket. She’s a medium pace bowler who bowls stump to stump and is a handy batter.

“One thing which struck me at Fairbreak was her willingness to get down and sweep the spinners. That’s definitely one of her power tools in the bank.”

This fixture starts a T20 double header at Headingley, with Yorkshire’s men facing Leicestershire at 3pm in the Vitality Blast.

And Carr is all in favour of double headers with men’s and women’s teams. Wednesday’s clash with Lightning at the Riverside is another, with Durham’s men playing Worcestershire in the evening.

“I would actually have all of the Charlotte Edwards Cup matches as double headers with the Blast,” added Carr.

“There might be some initial challenges around scheduling for Alan Fordham and the ECB to deal with, but once those teething problems are ironed out, I think would actually make the scheduling easier.

“I think we’ve seen in World Cups, the Big Bash when it first launched out there and, most recently, the Hundred that it makes a better spectacle. I think men’s and women’s cricket played side by side is healthy and is great for the profile of the game.”


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