Bess Heath is the perfect fit for England’s fearless, attacking brand of cricket after the Northern Diamonds star won her maiden senior call-up today.
That is the view of Diamonds’ director of cricket James Carr after the region’s wicketkeeper-batter was called up for the forthcoming white ball series against Sri Lanka.
Heath is in both T20 and 50-over squads for the pair of three-match series which run from August 31 to September 14.
The 21-year-old contracted professional at Headingley has impressed for the Diamonds and England’s A team in recent times.
“Since Jon Lewis has come in as England’s coach, he’s tried to instil this assertive brand of cricket,” said Carr.
“If you’ve got the ball in your hand, it’s about looking to take wickets all the time. If it’s with bat in hand, it’s about trying to put pressure on the bowler.
“The latter is very much Bess Heath.
“She’s not going to die wondering, she’s always going to look for the positive option, and I think that suits the mantra of this England team perfectly.”
Chesterfield-born Heath is currently on Hundred duty with the Headingley-based Northern Superchargers.
She has scored nine fifties in all cricket for the Diamonds since debuting in August 2020.
She also scored two women’s List A centuries in county cricket for Derbyshire before moving to play for Yorkshire, and in all senior T20 cricket – the Hundred included – she is closing in on 100 career appearances.
Carr continued: “This is fantastic news, and we’re absolutely delighted for her and very proud. Ultimately, all of her hard work and commitment has paid off.
“She’s a proud North Derbyshire girl who had to get her diet of cricket through the old Regional Development Centre structure. The Leeds based RDC was the closest option for her, and she put the miles in.
“She’s transitioned into being a Kia Super League player, a Yorkshire county player and, in recent years, a full-time professionally contracted Northern Diamond.
“It’s the epitome of what’s required to become a pro.
“Hopefully at some point in September she will get to pull on an England shirt. It’s been a lot of hard work and graft. If there was any player you are going to describe as hard working and committed, it would be Bess.
“There were eight Regional Development Centres, and they were strategically played geographically around the country. For Bess, it was either Loughborough or coming to us. Thankfully, she chose us.
“It’s been a delight for coaches such as Dani Hazell, Courtney Winfield-Hill and Kevin Gresham to be able to play a part in her development.”
Heath can bat at the top of the order or in the middle – and when she is not keeping wicket, she is a live-wire in the outfield.
She is one of two new call-ups, alongside Thunder’s teenaged fast bowler Mahika Gaur, the Reading-born left-arm who has previously played international cricket for the United Arab Emirates.
Heather Knight captains both squads. Unfortunately, Lauren Winfield-Hill has missed out.
Carr continued: “It’s been very clear from the England selectors over the last two years that with the domestic structure bedded in, there’s faith in the system. They’re not afraid to give opportunity.
“We’ve seen players retire and young players come through. There’s been lots and lots of debutants.
“This is what the regional and professional system is designed for.
“The length and breadth of the country is littered with professional cricketers, and that is giving us the depth to be able to call upon the likes of Bess and many others who we’ve seen progress into the senior England squad recently.
“There’s a number of spots Bess could fill in that England team in both white ball formats.
“I don’t think much fazes her. She’s very grounded. There’s a lot of detail and diligence behind the relaxed, smiley nature of Bess.
“That’s a big contributing factor to where she’s got to with this call-up.”
Fingers crossed, Heath is the first of many Diamonds young guns to progress through to the England senior set-up over the next few years.
“I would hope so,” added Carr.
“We’ve seen other players in the England A programme this summer, and there will be some A activity during the winter, hopefully. It would be great to see a few other players of ours in there.
“Hollie Armitage is an outstanding leader and has been a consistent performer. She’s just one example.
“We’ve also got young players in Lizzie Scott and Emma Marlow who have been with the Under 19s, and they’ll be putting their hands up in a few years.”