Tom Cant says the forthcoming Regional Festival at Millfield School in Taunton promises to be “a great few days” for the Northern Diamonds Academy.

A 13-player squad, led by Senior Regional Talent Manager Cant, is heading to the West Country today ahead of three days of Twenty20 action between the eight regions, starting tomorrow.

It’s the second Academy festival of the summer but the first in the regional era to have such a competitive element.

The eight teams have been split into two groups and will play three games on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of a Finals Day on Thursday. 

It has been formatted this way by the ECB to best prepare players for tournaments ahead such as the Under 19s T20 World Cup which was played for the first time at the start of this year in South Africa. 

The Diamonds are in a group alongside the Blaze, Southern Vipers and South East Stars. (Central Sparks, Sunrisers, Thunder and Western Storm are in the other group).

“The build up to the 2025 World Cup starts here,” said Cant, who celebrates his 33rd birthday today.

“The ECB want us to play a positive brand of cricket and have introduced bonus points to encourage attacking cricket.”

Four points are on offer for a win, plus a bonus point for winning with run- rate 1.25 better than your opponent. 

There are also in-innings bonus points available such two points from three or more wickets taken in the powerplay or two points for 45 plus runs scored. 

A team gets four points for taking nine or 10 wickets in an innings or as many points for scoring 20 plus fours and sixes off the bat.

“It’s a great few days for the girls,” said Cant.

“They bonded as a team at the first festival back in April, despite the lack of cricket (due to the rain). 

“And we look forward to watching how they go. 

“I’m delighted that we’ve appointed Mark Harrison as the new Regional Talent Manager. He will be at the festival, and Peter Ross, the new Senior Assistant Coach, is also joining us.”

Cant continued: “Post festival, we turn our attention to a two-day game versus Thunder at Weetwood (August 1-2), which is another challenge for the girls – one coming off T20 cricket and then looking to bat for long periods of time and spending more time in the field potentially then they ever have previously. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing who puts their hand up for short-leg duties!”

The Diamonds, captained by Harriet Robson, face the Vipers first up on Tuesday at midday. Given the rivalry created by the senior teams, Cant described that as “typical”.

The Diamonds head to Somerset in buoyant mood having recently completed a block of 50-over matches, winning three added to a No Result.

Highlights included 82 for Layla Tipton in a win over the Central Sparks. It was the Diamonds highest individual score before being beaten a week later by Trudy Johnson’s 95 against Western Storm. It contributed to a record score of 344.

“The girls have played some excellent cricket,” said Cant. 

“It was (Storm, 344) one of the best 50 overs of batting I’ve seen at any level. 

“We’ve challenged the girls to go big, not to be happy with 30s – aim high, and hopefully that first hundred is just around the corner for someone

“Amelia Oliver on Academy debut top-scored with 52 in our game against the North East Warriors, which ended up being rained off. That shows the depth we now have coming through.”

Bowling highlights included Beth Slater’s 4-34 versus Storm. 

Cant added to that, saying: “Grace Thompson has impressed on her return from a stress fracture. 

“Rhia Sedha, an Emerging Players Programme player like Amelia, took a couple of wickets versus the Warriors and has earned herself a spot in this week’s festival.”

Tipton and Ciara Boaden are both unavailable this week due to work and a school sports tour respectively.

Diamonds Festival squad: Harriet Robson c, Mary Butler w, Trudy Johnson, Lucy Lindley, Frances Lonsdale, Olivia Miller, Ellie Nightingale w, Elicia Pollard, Rhia Sedha, Beth Slater, Erin Thomas, Grace Thompson, Emily Whiting.

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