It has only been a month since the end of the regional summer, but Diamonds’ coach Dani Hazell is already itching to get back into it and start ramping up preparations for 2024.
Hazell and her players will return to pre-season training next month.
They will be minus a few familiar faces, with Australia calling for Leah Dobson, Bess Heath, Sterre Kalis and Lauren Winfield-Hill.
Dobson and Kalis are playing women’s grade cricket in Queensland and Tasmania respectively.
While Kalis is playing for the New Town club, Dobson has signed on to play for the Gold Coast Dolphins – the same club Yorkshire all-rounder Matthew Revis is playing for in the men’s competition.
Heath is playing in the Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat, a competition which starts tomorrow, while Winfield-Hill has been handed a late replacement call to sign for the Perth Scorchers in place of Danni Wyatt.
Winfield-Hill was planning some downtime before playing state cricket for Queensland – her wife Courtney’s home state. Courtney is the assistant coach of Brisbane in the WBBL, and they will now be coming up against each other when Brisbane play Perth in Sydney on Sunday.
Following the Big Bash, Heath could then have England commitments to contend with after the wicketkeeper-batter made her senior ODI debut against Sri Lanka last month.
“Who knows where Bess is going to be by the start of the summer,” said Hazell. “She has got such an exciting winter ahead of her. We might not see her for six months now.
“We have a couple of other players away. Sterre, Dobbo, Loz as well. They’re going into different environments, and that’s healthy because they will learn from different people.
“The other girls will come back mid-November and have a good strength and conditioning block.
“We’ll then get down to the cricket skills and keep that freshness.
“I want girls to be desperate to pick a bat and ball up again, and not just do it because I say that’s when we’re starting.”
At the start of this month, Winfield-Hill and Levick were named in the Metro Bank women’s team of the year, selected via the Professional Cricketers’ Association Most Valuable Player rankings.
That came shortly after the Diamonds’ own player of the year awards.
Wicketkeeper-batter Winfield-Hill, who scored a competition-high 663 runs in 14 Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy innings, was named as the region’s batter of the year, the overall player of the year and the Yorkshire members’ player of the year.
“Lauren’s a gem for us, and we’re very lucky to have her,” said Hazell. “She’s gold-dust around this side, and she’s a leader in everything that she does.”
Levick was named bowler of the year and won the players’ player of the year award.
The leg-spinner’s 36 wickets across both competitions was more than any other bowler in regional cricket for the second season running.
“Lev has been unbelievable yet again,” said Hazell. “She just keeps getting better and better.
“I actually think bringing through the youth like we have has helped the older players. It’s been a really nice blend that we’ve got.
“There are players at different stages of their careers, but you would never know the difference. They just have the most amazing time together, and that’s been really powerful for me.
“Yes, there have been ups and downs this year, there haven’t been perfect overs, there have been some silly shots. That’s cricket. But they’ve stuck at it and rode the wave together. It’s been amazing to see.”
Hazell referenced the young players coming through at the Diamonds, and there are many. The likes of Grace Hall, Emma Marlow, Lizzie Scott and Jess Woolston spring to mind immediately.
As former off-spinner, work with the likes of Marlow and Katherine Fraser will be important. Both played in last January’s Under 19s World Cup for England and Scotland respectively, though suffered frustration through the summer.
Marlow has already spoken about loss of form with the ball, while Fraser missed the second half of the summer through injury. No doubt, both will be firing on all cylinders come next April.
Hazell added: “That’s coaching, and I’m really looking forward to that.
“To be honest, the last few weeks of the season, Marlow wasn’t that far away at all with her bowling. There are just a few things we need to work on, and I can’t wait. I know she’s exactly the same.
“Every player goes through that up and down. We’ve got plenty of time to work on things, and she will be back to her very best, I’m sure.
“Katherine is coming back from injury, and we’re hoping to keep hold of her this winter given she’s going to Uni in Leeds.
“It’s time to do some coaching!”