Coach Dani Hazell is confident her Northern Diamonds can sparkle during the forthcoming Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, starting this weekend.

The former England World Cup winner will take charge of the Diamonds during the eight-team 50-over competition played between the new Women’s Regional Centres of Excellence.

The Diamonds will be representing Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland.

The one-off competition is split into two regional groups of four, with each team playing six fixtures. The winners of each group advance through to the final on Saturday September 26, hosted by the best placed group winner.

Hazell’s Diamonds open their account against Central Sparks at Edgbaston on Saturday (10.30am).

“Our squad is definitely set up to win it if we play well enough, and we have every chance of doing that,” said Hazell, who accepts there is a balancing act between immediate performance and future development.

“That’s the interesting thing. Any competition you are in, you want to try and win. However, we do have to have an eye on next year and the future.

“You have two sides to your thinking – one, here and now, and then two, what’s to come further down the line.

“We’re really looking forward to it.

“Personally, having spent so much time in lockdown, it’s been nice to get out there again, do some coaching and get ready for a big competition coming up.”

Hazell has named a squad of 15 including some familiar names in the form of Hollie Armitage, Jenny Gunn, Beth Langston and Katie Levick, all regulars in the now defunct Kia Super League T20 competition.

There are no England players involved for now, although that could change if there are no international matches played this summer.

“There are lots of names we recognise from the KSL and county cricket, but there are others who we don’t know much about,” said Hazell.

“That’s exciting for them and us because we need as many of those young girls performing well up and down the country.

“It’s a good chance for them to put runs or wickets on the board to see where they can get themselves.

“If England players are available, it will be a bonus.

“We don’t know how the teams will gel together, but the main thing is our girls are getting on pretty well!”

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