“That’s definitely a win which I’ll remember for a long time,” says Hollie Armitage as she reflects on the Northern Diamonds thrilling victory over South East Stars at the Oval in late May.
As 2023 draws to a close, the Diamonds captain was asked to pick a performance which meant the most to her last season. And a Charlotte Edwards Cup clash which saw Lizzie Scott hit the winning runs off the last ball was the one, with the visitors successfully chasing a 139 target to win by two wickets.
“That game was our standout performance of the summer, for me,” said the England A star, currently spending her festive period playing in New Zealand’s Super Smash T20 competition.
“Scotty hitting a boundary off the last ball, and there’s a brilliant video of us all celebrating on social media.”
The Diamonds have made getting over the line in tight games a bit of a trademark over the last few years, especially in 2022 when they won the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title, beating Southern Vipers in a final which went down to the last ball.
This Friday afternoon game at the Oval, which Armitage is reflecting on, was no different. It was just unfortunate that it didn’t contribute to a trophy, with the Diamonds later missing out on Finals Day.
England batter Alice Capsey made a superb 71 for the Stars, who had been invited to bat. She recovered the hosts from 33-3 after six overs to 138-7.
No other Star made it beyond 15 as new ball quick Scott impressed, returning 1-11 from three overs. But the standout performer was fellow seamer Grace Hall, who was at her skilful best for 3-20 from four overs in only her third senior regional appearance.
One of Hall’s wickets was aggressive England opener Sophia Dunkley, who had scored a 50-over century against the Diamonds at Scarborough earlier in the month.
In reply, the Diamonds lost openers Leah Dobson and Lauren Winfield-Hill to slip to 6-2 in the third over, only for Armitage herself to anchor the recovery with a brilliant 82 off 59 balls.
However, she fell to England seamer Freya Davies in the penultimate over, leaving the score at 131-7. With nine balls remaining, the Diamonds needed eight to win.
Scott arrived at the crease, and the target became six off the last over from Alice Davidson-Richards.
Abi Glen fell to the first ball of the last over, and the target became three from the last ball. Thankfully, Scott carved the seamer over backward point to secure a third straight CE Cup win from the opening three games in the most thrilling way.
Armitage said: “We’ve had a few close games over the last year or two, and sometimes they can be the worst games for a captain because you’re thinking, ‘We’ve got this’. Then it’s, ‘Oh no, we don’t’. But we generally find a way.
“That’s what’s really promising for us as a squad. We’ve had different players standing up at different times, whether that’s players who have been around for a while or younger ones coming through.
“When the bowlers have that control and can restrict teams to 140-150 or below, that sets it up for the batters to do their job.
“One thing we do, we fight for each other, and that’s what we did in that game with both bat and ball.”
When Armitage fell late on having posted a career best T20 score, she must have been concerned that it would end up being an opportunity missed.
“I guess you think that about any game when you get out in a tight situation, it’s only natural,” she added. “I always want to be the person there at the end to finish it off. But I still had the faith in the batters we had coming in. Thankfully, they did the job. It was a fantastic day.”