Beth Langston couldn’t hide her delight after returning a stunning six-wicket – match-winning – haul for Northern Diamonds against Sunrisers today.

Langston has been through almost two years of injury hell, the seamer rupturing her right ACL and then having complications to follow.

Since August 2022, the 31-year-old has played only one competitive match for the Diamonds. She came back in last season’s Charlotte Edwards Cup, against Thunder at Blackpool, but had to abort mission and return to a rehab programme.

Today, her return was seamless. She claimed 6-24 from 10 overs bowled across two spells and was, at one point, on a hat-trick as the Diamonds won by four wickets in bowler-friendly conditions.

Yes, conditions were helpful. But Langston still had to bowl well, and she did to help Diamonds to a seventh win in nine matches so far in this season’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

The 2022 champions are now all but qualified for September’s semi-finals.

Talking of 2022 champions. It’s remarkable to think that, before today, Langston hadn’t played a 50-over game since before the final at Lord’s against Southern Vipers that summer. 

In fact, she hadn’t taken a 50-over wicket since the 2021 final against the Vipers at Northampton.

“I’m just happy to be back on the park with everyone,” she beamed. 

“It’s been tough going the last couple of years watching. But I’m just glad I could get back and contribute to a win.

“It’s been pretty tough, but I just love playing cricket. 

“It’s about doing all you can to get back on the pitch. If there was a chance to keep playing, I was going to take it. 

“I can’t see myself doing anything else at the minute. Hopefully I can contribute to some more wins for the Diamonds.”

Langston actually returned the best figures by any bowler in regional cricket this season: “Wow, I didn’t realise that, I’m chuffed,” she continued.

“They were quite favourable conditions for seam bowling. It was swinging for a lot longer than it usually does, which was nice. I was just trying to put it in the right areas and let the pitch and ball do the work. Luckily, it worked out.

“To bowl a team out for 110, everyone’s been on the money. 

“It’s unusual that Katie Levick, Burnsy and Katherine Fraser haven’t bowled much because they’ve been really successful for us. So it’s nice that different people have stood up.”

Diamonds had a scare in the chase, slipping to 32-4 before Hollie Armitage made 33 and Erin Burns 35 not out.

“If you’d have said at the start of the day that they’d be 110 all out, we’d have definitely taken that,” said Langston. “It probably got a bit closer than we would have liked, but we’re really happy with the win.

“We were hoping the pitch would have flattened out a bit more than it did, but we knew we had time on our side and didn’t have to take too many risks.”

Diamonds now have a 16-point gap to fifth-placed Lancashire Thunder with only five games remaining and 25 points available. They are all but home and hosed for the semis.

But they still have work to do to secure a top-two finish and a home semi-final. 

“We’ve got a bit of momentum going now,” said Langston. 

“We’re in a really good position. It’s almost a shame there’s a break for the Hundred coming up. When you have momentum, it would be nice to keep going.

“Hopefully we can keep building and get in a favourable position for the semi-finals – hopefully get a home one.”

They have one more game – against Blaze at Lindum on Sunday – before the month-long break for the Hundred. Langston is confident she will be ready to go again.

“I’ve not bowled 10 overs in a very long time. I’m feeling ok, but we’ll see how the body feels tomorrow!” she smiled.

“Hopefully the body holds up and I won’t look back now.”

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