Northern Diamonds senior regional talent manager Tom Cant has reflected on a mixed start to the new summer below first-team level.

Cant has given an update on the progression of both the Diamonds Academy and second-teams, with weather frustration playing its part in hampering progress.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been encouragement, there definitely has. Some young players have progressed their games amidst victories and defeats.

The Diamonds Academy have won two and lost two games so far. Other games against Durham University, Lancashire Thunder, Yorkshire Cricket College and Central Sparks through April fell by the wayside because of rain.

For the second team, they fell to a pair of defeats against a strong Sparks team at Kirkstall last week – first-team captain Eve Jones played – at the start of their T20 competition.

A number of players who fill places in both teams have also played some early-season county cricket for both Yorkshire and the North East Warriors. Yorkshire won at 50-over game between the two sides at Durham  last month.

“It was good to see the girls come up against each other,” said Cant, before talking about the Academy.

“It was a frustrating start to the season through April, with the weather and a number of games washed out.

“We were due to play Leeds University at Weetwood last month, Robbo (Richard Robinson, Yorkshire’s head of grounds) kindly let us play at Headingley –  otherwise those games would have been called off as well.

“It was good for the girls to get out on grass.

“There were a number of debutants, and Headingley isn’t a bad place to make your debut!

“We had two wins and some strong individual performances.

“There were runs for Harriet Robson, Erin Thomas, Ellie Nightingale and Amelia Oliver across the day.

“Freya Rook claimed six wickets across the two matches – her debut appearances for us – and Maddie Ward and Ellie (Nightingale) kept well behind the stumps.”

Rook’s 4-12 in the second game, a 29-run win, was the day’s standout performance.

The Academy then played the Blaze in two more T20s at Farsley just under a fortnight ago, losing both.

Cant said: “The Blaze games, we fell short.

“We looked a little bit rusty in the field but improved as the day went on.

“Fair play to Prisha Thanawala, who got an excellent century in game one for the Blaze.

“It was a good reminder for our batters about going on to get the big scores.

“We were better in the longer formats last year, so we are looking to play as much T20 cricket as possible ahead of the Academy Festival, which comes in August.

“With the amount of cricket, we had called off last year – and the upcoming changes to the women’s structure – we want to give the girls as many playing opportunities as possible to give them the best chance of staying on an Academy programme or moving onto a rookie/senior contract.”

Unfortunately, the seconds were well beaten in both of their opening T20s against the Sparks last week. In the second game, the visitors racked up a notable total of 244-3 at the postage stamp Kirkstall venue. But they did bounce back impressively to beat Thunder at Bradshaw in Bolton on Monday.

Emma Marlow hit 53 not out and took a wicket in a six-wicket win chasing 146.

“Several of the Academy girls were involved on both days,” said Cant.

“Coming up against senior players allows us and the girls to see where they are and know where they need to get to.

“With Kyle Coetzer leading the second team, it also allows the girls to show their skills off in front of the senior coaches.”

And on what is to come, Cant added: “A number of the girls are now in the middle of exams, so we try and keep them ticking over with training opportunities and drop-in sessions.

“Next week, we go from T20s to a red-ball, two-day game, which is a challenge in itself. Our game last year was rained off.

“We play Western Storm at Harrogate (May 29-30).

“It’s always a good wicket there, so the challenge will be for the girls to bat long periods and find different ways to take wickets.

“Early June is fairly quiet as exams finish. Then, once we pick up again towards the end of the month, it’s non-stop all the way through to the end of August/early September.

“On Tuesday, it’s the turn of the Emerging Players Programme players, as they have an internal squad game at Barton CC. 

“We’re looking for the EPP players to be knocking on the Academy door when opportunities arise, so these games are great for us to see who is going well.”

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