Northern Diamonds put down a dominant performance with bat and ball to ease past Thunder in our Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy clash to seal a place in the knockout phase of the competition.
Bess Heath led the way with the bat for the home side at Emirates Riverside top-scoring with an unbeaten 78. Beth Langston also impressed with 58, while Sterre Kalis notched a half-century of her own in the Diamonds’ innings of 294-5 from 50 overs.
Katie Levick was on point with the ball with 4-34, but an all-round effort from the bowlers ensured that the Thunder would not challenge the required total, allowing the Diamonds to ease to a 105-run win securing a top-three spot in the standings before a showdown against Southern Vipers next week.
The Diamonds made two changes to the side that beat Western Storm. Jenny Gunn was ruled out with an injury and Lauren Winfield-Hill joined up with England for their ODI series against New Zealand. Ami Campbell and Rachel Hopkins were called into the side to replace the two players, with the latter slotting alongside Hollie Armitage opening the innings for the hosts.
Thunder captain Alex Hartley won the toss and inserted the Diamonds, who dealt an early blow when Armitage steered a tame drive into the hands of Natalie Brown at point off the bowling of Alice Dyson for only seven. Kalis and Hopkins were able to stabilise proceedings in the middle.
Kalis was settled into a rhythm and was able to penetrate the field with ease early in her innings to up the scoring rate. Hopkins took her time to get going, but began to find her stride with a couple of fine strokes through the covers. However, she fell for 20 to the bowling of Brown, edging behind to keeper Eleanor Threlkeld, ending a solid stand of 47 for the second wicket.
Leah Dobson played two nice shots to the fence, but lost her wicket before she build a substantial innings. She was run out for nine by a direct hit by Alex Hartley at the non-strikers’ end attempting a quick single. Kalis continued her impressive knock, and she manoeuvred her way to fifty from only 56 balls, scoring eight boundaries in the process. Substitute field Sophia Turner prevented Kalis from building a huge score, producing a fine diving catch to hand Hartley her first wicket.
Campbell took the initiative from Kalis, producing two excellent strikes down the ground to bring up maximums against Hartley. She shared a stand worth 54 for the fifth wicket with Bess Heath, and was well placed to record a deserved half-century. However, Campbell was caught on the boundary by Laura Marshall two shy of her fifty off the bowling of Hannah Jones.
A rain delay brought an early lunch and after a 30-minute break, Heath was given a life by Turner by 33 and made the fielded pay the price.
The Diamonds wicket-keeper produced a fine effort with the bat, scoring her fifty from 46 balls. Her exploits set the platform for a late surge alongside Langston. Langston took on the role as the aggressor and propelled the hosts to a score of 294-6, notching a rapid fifty in 28 balls in the process.
Phoebe Graham halted a positive start from the Thunder, breaking the opening stand for 38 in their reply by prising out Seren Snale for 12. The Diamonds controlled the run rate and were able to apply pressure on Threlkeld. She struggled for fluency at the crease before being dismissed for 13 from 25 balls, lbw to Katie Levick. Georgie Boyce was not fluent, but she battled it out in the middle. Telford dropped the opener on 49 off Armitage, and she capitalised to reach her fifty.
The Diamonds upped the ante as Armitage removed Daisy Mullan for eight as Langston claimed a catch on the leg-side boundary. The pressure finally told on Boyce, who fell to Armitage for 67 as Telford atoned for earlier drop with sharp catch at mid-wicket. The skipper forced a second wicket in the 33rd over by running out Brown with a clever flick onto the stumps.
Laura Jackson and Laura Marshall put on a futile stand of 50 to take the game into the closing overs, but the Diamonds coasted towards a dominant win courtesy of late strikes from Levick ahead of their crunch clash against Southern Vipers next week.