Bess Heath summed up the feelings of all Northern Diamonds followers when she reflected on today’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy win over South East Stars at Beckenham and said: “My heart-rate was definitely going at the end! 

The Diamonds won a last-ball thriller by three runs, defending a target of 312.

They survived a brilliant 130 from England batter Sophia Dunkley, who batted at three and was run out in the last over, from which the hosts needed 11 against Erin Burns.

Earlier, Dunkley’s England team-mate Heath was one of three fifty-makers in the Diamonds 311-9, alongside captain Hollie Armitage and Sterre Kalis.

Burns and Sophia Turner both claimed two wickets with the ball, but there were other contributors of note. Jess Woolston, for example. She hit a career best 23 from number 10 to boost the total and then struck once with the new ball.

Speaking after that heart-rate had come down, wicketkeeper-batter Heath continued: “Seriously, the bowlers were very clear on their plans and what we had to do. It was just a case of executing it.

“Dunks batted phenomenally. She set the tone for them and made it a good game of cricket. She built quite well, but we just had to keep the pressure on her. 

“They built a very good partnership (Dunkley and Cranstone – 83 for the sixth wicket), but I felt like we damage controlled quite well. Hollie, especially, thinking outside the box with fields and always thinking about how we could get them out. 

“They managed to take it down to the wire, but we got there in the end. It was exciting, wasn’t it.”

The Diamonds compiled their second 300 plus total in four and a bit seasons of regional cricket expertly. 

“It was a nice pitch to play on, a good outfield,” reflected Heath. “It was very batter friendly. We knew that we had to play strong shots, hit the gaps, put pressure on the field and not get bored with that.

“It was just about remaining patient and staying in because you can’t do the damage unless you’re out there in the middle.”

Heath’s 63 represented her first fifty of the season. 

The 22-year-old continued: “I feel like I’ve been building towards that score. I’m obviously playing a newer role at four, and I’m navigating my way through it. 

“It’s nice to get some runs in that position.”

A high-scoring fixture was settled by some good bowling at the end from the likes of Sophia Turner and Katie Levick, who also bowled a tidy over late on. Burns then held her nerve. 

Turner bowled much better than her figures of 2-79 from 10 overs suggest.

Heath said: “Even good balls on this pitch can go for four. It’s about taking that and saying, ‘That’s ok. I just need to keep bowling my best ball’.” 

The Diamonds are now into the top four places in the group after six games with four wins from six and 17 points. They are two points off top spot. 

It is a very encouraging start to the competition which now breaks until late June whilst the T20 Charlotte Edwards Cup is played. 

“Absolutely, it is,” added Heath. “We wanted to get out of the blocks and go into the T20s in a relatively good and strong position, which we are.”

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