Northern Diamonds v Western Storm
Charlotte Edwards Cup, Group Two
Saturday August 28 2021, 2.30pm
Emirates Riverside, Durham
Toss: Storm won it and elected to bowl.
Teams: Diamonds - Heath w, Dobson, Kalis, Armitage c, Gunn, Smith, Hopkins, MacDonald, Slater, Levick, Telford.
Storm - Morris, Hennessy, Luff c, Gibson, George, Griffiths, Wraith w, Parfitt, Harvey, Gammon, Filer.
Match summary: The Diamonds lost by four wickets with three balls remaining against a Storm side who replaced them at the top of Group Two with one round remaining.
Storm captain Sophie Luff’s unbeaten 60 anchored their pursuit of 111, recovering them from 14-3 and absorbing the loss of further wickets later on.
Diamonds now, realistically, must win their final game against Thunder and rely on other results in order to qualify for Finals Day at Southampton on September 5.
Report: The Diamonds posted 110-9 with Alex MacDonald’s 22 down the order the only score of 20 or more.
Storm were outstanding with the ball and in the field, affecting two run outs and catching well.
Spinners Nicole Harvey and Fi Morris claimed two wickets apiece, while Georgia Hennessy returned 1-15 from four overs of medium pace.
Captain Hollie Armitage, who moved herself down the order to four, was one of the run outs for five following a mix-up with Sterre Kalis coming back for two.
Lauren Parfitt also took a fine one-handed catch over her head at point after Linsey Smith miscued Hennessy - 56-5 in the 12th over.
The Diamonds fielded two bowling debutants in left-arm seamer Rachel Slater and Ella Telford, though the latter was not called upon in a spirited defence.
Storm fell to 14-3 after 3.2 overs.
Smith’s left-arm spin trapped Hennessy lbw with the first ball of the innings before left-arm seamer Slater bowled Morris and Gibson in her first eight balls. The 20-year-old finished with 2-16 from three overs in an encouraging debut to say the least.
Sophie Luff and Katie George then shared a calm 49 for the fourth wicket.
Luff pulled Armitage’s leg-spin for four and lofted her for a straight six, only to lose George bowled for 14 in the same over as the score fell to 63-4 in the 12th.
Alex Griffiths and Natasha Wraith also succumbed to Katie Levick and Smith before Luff, who reached her fifty off 44 balls, helped gain 18 off the last three overs and four off the last from Jenny Gunn.
Parfitt also added an unbeaten 20 to provide valuable support, though it was left to Luff to hit the winning single.
Turning point: You could say it was the fourth-wicket partnership between Sophie Luff and Katie George, recovering Storm from 14-3. But, ultimately, the Diamonds losing four wickets for 17, slipping from 45-2 to 62-6, was hugely damaging to their chances of a fourth win.
Magic moment: The wicket of Fi Morris, bowled trying to pull at debutant Rachel Slater’s second ball, leaving the Storm at 6-2 after eight balls.
Stat: One of the Diamonds’ two debutants, Rachel Slater, took 6-7 whilst captaining Yorkshire women’s under 17s versus Staffordshire in 2019.
What they said: Diamonds coach Dani Hazell - “If you don’t get enough runs on the board, you don’t deserve to win. Luffy batted really well for them. Credit to them.
“We fought hard with the ball, but that was a fair result I would say.
“This is T20 cricket - these things happen.
“We didn’t get enough runs but bowled well. It’s just that they had someone who got 60 not out. That was the difference.
“We are now relying on another result if we win. Hopefully we will do our half of the job and see how the rest of it goes.
“We do have a world-class bowling attack, but 110 is asking a lot of that attack.
“We should be getting 125-130 and making the game a lot more comfortable for ourselves.
“That has been issue over the season, and it’s about the girls identifying how they want to play the game and how they want to move it forwards.”
What’s next: The Diamonds face cross-Pennine rivals Thunder in the final group stage fixture on Monday.
That game will be at Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club (2.30pm).
The Diamonds are looking for revenge following Thunder’s 12-run victory in the opening round of group fixtures at Emerald Headingley in late June.
Much more importantly, they need a win to have any chance of reaching Finals Day.
The equation: Three places at Finals Day on September 5, hosted by Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl, are on offer across the two groups.
The two best group winners qualify, plus the best second-placed finisher.
In Group One, South East Stars are top on 17 points and Southern Vipers second on 15.
Stars play Central Sparks at Edgbaston’s Community Sports ground on Monday, Vipers travel to Derby to face Lightning.
In Group Two, it is more complicated.
Storm are top on 13 points, Diamonds second on 12 and Thunder third on 11. All can still reach Finals Day.
The Diamonds, realistically, have to win against Thunder at Chester to have any chance of reaching Finals Day, either as group winners or the best second-placed team. They definitely have to win to have a chance of the latter.
If Storm beat Sunrisers at Fenner’s, the Diamonds would need to beat Thunder with a bonus point to have a chance of finishing top of the group (four points for a regular win, five with a bonus point).
If Storm win and Diamonds win but not well enough to finish top, they have to hope Vipers lose against the Lightning in the other group to claim the best second place.
The Diamonds would also advance with a tie against Thunder if Storm lost their game.