Cricket, women's cricket, girls cricket, ECB, England, England cricket

Yorkshire Diamonds rely on experience to see them home

Authored by J.ramage
Posted: Saturday, September 5, 2020 - 17:18

There are a lot of what-ifs in cricket. It is usually complicated to settle an argument one way or another. On Monday, question would have been, “What if Nat Sciver hadn’t scored 104 for Northern Diamonds?" 

The answer was Northern Diamonds would again prosper, this time by two wickets.

We got as close as it is possible to that when Lightning and Northern Diamonds met at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road. Both sides were without their England players bound for the Derby bubble. We could see where the balance of the two sides was without the experience of Katherine Brunt, Lauren Winfield, Linsey Smith and Sciver, while Lightning were without Tammy Beaumont and Kirstie Gordon.

With the inform sisters Sarah and Kathryn Bryce, Lightning were marginal favourites even with oodles of experience that the Diamonds had at their disposal in the shape of Jenny Gunn, Katie Levick, Beth Langston and Hollie Armitage. It would take most if not all of them to shine.

It was refreshing to see one of the more central pitches on the square used and, despite losing the toss and being asked to bat first, there were plenty of runs to be got. With Beaumont now back in the England bubble Bethan Ellis moved up the order to bat with Sarah Bryce. The pair set about their business with plenty of intent.

Phoebe Graham was removed from the bowling attack having bowled two full tosses above waist height. By that stage, the runs had been flowing, and again Lightning was able to build a solid base. Gunn and Levick were utilised an over earlier than Armitage would have desired. Not only did it have the effect of slowing the stem of runs but also got the breakthrough.

Ellis could have no complaints being given out lbw to a ball that would have dislodged her middle stump. When Kathryn Bryce played all around a straight delivery from Gunn, Northern Diamonds started to get back into the game. It wasn’t a total disaster, Sarah Bryce was in the form of her life and Abbey Freeborn had looked industrious in her only other performance for Lightning this season.

Freeborn raced to 17 from her first eight balls. With Sarah Bryce scoring with ease, it looked as if a target of 260 plus was on. The innings soon swung Northern Diamonds way with a bit of misfortune for Bryce; Armitage served her up a juicy full toss which could only swat it to Langston at mid-wicket.

Freeborn soon departed with the score on 139 for 5. The hard work at the top of the innings was starting to unravel. One of the purposes of this competition, potentially, is to find out what some players are made of in pressure situations. While Nancy Harman with 21 and Teresa Graves with 37 may seem modest returns, they are their highest scores in this format.

While Lightning will have been disappointed not to have scored more than 226 all out, they will have learnt a lot about the resolve of their batting. It was also a total they could defend.

Much would rely on Northern Diamonds captain Hollie Armitage. Having been a replacement over the winter in the WBBL for Ellyse Perry, there are good reasons why she is highly rated. If anyone were going to knock the runs off it would be Armitage.

It was made harder for her when she lost two batting partners early on. First Rachel Hopkins was lbw to Leah Kellogg for a 19 ball one. Sterre Kalis was to go the same way in the next over to Kathryn Bryce. Ami Campbell joined her captain, and the pair added 55 for the third wicket. Campbell looked assured for most of her innings of 43. Campbell cleared the roped twice before she picked out Bethan Ellis.

With Armitage gone by then, Northern Diamonds were 106 for six as the spin of Lucy Higham with figures of 3 for 38, and Nancy Harman bowling from the other end Lightning chipped away at the wickets needed. When you have players such as Langston and Gunn, both who have seen it all before, you could never write off Northern Diamonds. Gunn has played over 300 List A Games and 144 of which were ODIs for England.

With the partnership going past the fifty mark, there would have been jitters in the Lightning camp. Having lost both their previous games by fewer than ten runs, it started to feel as if that first win was just out of their grasp. Both batters started to rotate the strike, with the run-rate never an issue, it would just require the two veterans to do nothing stupid.

With a regular supply of wides thrown in, it was surprising when Langston tried to sweep Harman; the ball never got more than ankle hight, and a new batter in Graham joined Gunn in the middles with another 27 runs to win. Two wickets left for Lightning to take and the run-rate still well under a run a ball. The last five overs were going to be close.

With two runs to win Jenny Gunn reached her half-century from 72 balls. Again Lightning had lost by a narrow margin, this time by two wickets

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