Hollie Armitage and her Northern Diamonds team are desperate for that winning feeling again as the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy champions move closer to the start of their title defence next month.
Captain Armitage has, this winter, not shied away from talking up their chances of silverware in 2023, and the all-rounder reiterated that today as she sat down to talk as the Diamonds and Yorkshire hosted pre-season media day at Headingley.
The Diamonds only returned from a short and sharp pre-season tour to Desert Springs in Spain in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Memories of last September’s RHF Trophy final win over Southern Vipers at Lord’s remain fresh in the memory, increasing their desire to do it all over again this summer.
“Lord’s was amazing, and if we could go back to that day we’d do it over and over again if we could,” said Armitage, who lifted the trophy after three previous finals defeats in 2020 and 2021.
“That was a very special day for us, and this year we’re looking to go back-to-back. We also have our eyes on the T20 Cup.
“As professional cricketers, you always have the hunger to win. But, having experienced being on the losing side to then experience the winning side, it’s an amazing feeling. It’s one that you want to keep having throughout your career as much as you possibly can.”
Armitage was speaking to the media alongside team-mate Katie Levick and director of cricket James Carr.
All three were in Spain, where the Diamonds lost two games and won one.
“It was great to get away with the girls and get on grass,” she said, before chuckling and continuing: “There was a bit of forced socialising, which has helped bring the group closer together.
“It was a really good trip for us.
“The results didn’t really matter. We went more towards the development side, taking learnings from it, giving people opportunities where they wouldn’t usually bat or bowl.
“I think we’re shaping up pretty nicely. It’s shown in Spain that we’ve got younger players who stepped up.
“I’m happy with where we’re at, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this fairly young squad can go this season.”
Carr echoed Armitage’s confidence: “It’s always disappointing to lose finals, but the resilience and determination from these two seasoned pros has been evident. That’s gone through the entire squad.
“That younger group of players we’ve got, they’re not scarred. They’re a breath of fresh air.
“Even though we’ve lost the likes of Jenny Gunn and Linsey Smith, looking to go back-to-back is absolutely the right focus.
“We played the majority of the end of last season without the likes of Jenny because of injury, Beth Langston the same.
“The young players have been exposed to some high level cricket, and they’re already winners. Building on that is key.”
Brilliant leg-spinner Levick heads into this season only three wickets away from 300 in List A and T20 cricket combined. Since debuting for Yorkshire women in 2008, she has struck 297 times for all teams across both formats.
“It’s a lovely reward, and it’s nice to have these achievements because I’ve grafted away for quite a few years,” she said.
“Until we won that Rachael Heyhoe Flint final, I’d constantly finished as a runner-up and was thinking, ‘What’s my legacy going to be?’
“But it’s nice to have personal achievements as well to remind you that you are alright.”
The Diamonds begin their summer with an RHFT clash against Western Storm at Headingley on Saturday April 22.