Winfield-Hill planning to help Diamonds get off to a flyer

Lauren Winfield-Hill is planning to help the Northern Diamonds make a flying start to the new season.

The England batter is set to play in the first competitive game of 2022, the Charlotte Edwards Cup opener against Lightning at Loughborough on May 14.

Winfield-Hill has been enjoying some time off following a winter away with England at both the Ashes in Australia and the World Cup in New Zealand. But she has been making plans ahead of an immediate return to domestic action.

“I’m on a bit of time off at the moment, but I’ve said to Dani (Hazell, coach) that I want to come back, have a hit and hopefully be available for that first game at Loughborough,” she said.

England colleagues Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver will return to Diamonds’ training next week, with their availability to be assessed following more winter game time.

The game against the Lightning is the first of three inside eight days to start the summer, with the Diamonds also facing cross-Pennine rivals Thunder at Sale on May 18 and then Southern Vipers at Durham on May 21.

“That’s a good thing,” said Winfield-Hill, of the early run of tough fixtures. “You want to be tested early to see where you’re at and how well you’ve wintered.

“I’d much rather go out there and play the biggest and best teams early and get stuck into the contest rather than easing your way in. We want to set the tone.”

Winfield-Hill was speaking at Sunday’s launch of the commercial partnership between the Diamonds and Yorkshire and Indian female first film production company Clean Slate Studioz.

Clean Slate are a club principal partner whose name adorns both the main pavilion at Headingley as well the playing shirts of the Diamonds.

Winfield-Hill made five competitive appearances for England with a top score of 33 across their Ashes and World Cup campaigns, finishing the winter out of the team.

“It was a pretty tough three months,” she reflected. “It was great at the end to get to the (World Cup) final, and we started to play some really good cricket towards that back end of the tour.

“Personally, it was tough. It was a long time away from home and didn’t finish how I’d have liked.

“But, looking ahead, I’m really excited to be back and for the chance to get a lot of cricket under my belt with the Diamonds.

“I’ve been dropping in and out with the Diamonds over the last couple of years, but the more consistent you are with a group it helps massively. I’m hoping for at least the first part of the summer I’m going to be available a lot.

“I can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into the environment and the culture and help the girls bring some success back to this club.”

And on the prospects of winning her England place back, the Stamford Bridge star added: “I’m just going to take each game as it comes and play as well as I can. Wherever that leaves me, it leaves me.

“I’ve been in this situation before where I’ve been on the sidelines thinking, ‘Am I going to play for England again?’ It happened last year, and I started well and got back into nick. It’s not something I’m going to get too far ahead with.

“I’ll just try and play as well as I can each game and see where it goes.”