Captain Hollie Armitage put in an all-action display in victory against Central Sparks at Edgbaston today, and the Northern Diamonds captain says she is loving the challenge of progressing the different areas of her game. 

Armitage led the Diamonds to a first victory in six Charlotte Edwards Cup matches this season to keep their hopes of Finals Day qualification alive heading into the remaining four fixtures.

She was superb with 62, a wicket with her leg-spinners and affected a run out to boot. 

Her’s was the standout individual display amidst a host of valuable contributions which set the region up ideally for tomorrow’s clash with league leaders Blaze at Headingley (11am).

The Huddersfield-born star is best known for her skills as a top order batter and as a leader of her home region. 

But the other strings to her bow are crucial too.

Armitage

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Hollie Armitage bowls in this season’s Charlotte Edwards Cup. 

It may fly under the radar, but her leg-spin bowling has so often been useful to the Diamonds’ cause in the four-and-a-half-seasons of regional cricket.

There have been times when Armitage hasn’t utilised herself, preferring other options. She didn’t bowl at all in the first four Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy games of the season, for example. 

But a stunning final over against the Sparks at Edgbaston in that competition at the start of May, when she took two wickets and successfully defended only four runs to seal a memorable victory has given her belief.

She has bowled in four of the six Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 fixtures so far, claiming six wickets. 

“Bowling, for me, is a big confidence thing, and spin in the women’s game can expose batters,” she said. “We’ve utilised me as being one of the spinners in this T20 competition.

“Still, to this day, it makes me nervous. But I’m doing my best at training to put myself in the best position possible to do the best job for the team – whether that’s one, two or three overs, whatever. 

Picture courtesy of Central Sparks. Hollie Armitage was excellent with bat, ball and in the field in leading her side to victory at Edgbaston today.

“I’ve been trying to work really hard on it.

“Batting is second nature to me, it comes more naturally. I’ve done it for a lot longer and know my game much better. Bowling, I don’t know it as well. 

“Leg-spin is a hard skill, and that’s why I work really hard on it.

“Hopefully, in the next few months, I’ll get even more confidence with it and will start learning new tricks and things like that to become a genuine all-rounder.”

Armitage has already played one T20 international for England and is highly thought of by the national team’s management.

And, clearly, having as many strings to her bow as possible could be a deciding factor when it comes to selection.  

Sophia Turner

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Sophia Turner claimed the big wicket of Amy Jones today and gets the chance to strike again tomorrow.

“I’m just enjoying pushing my game forwards in different ways,”  continued the soon-to-be 27-year-old. She celebrates her birthday on Friday, when Diamonds face Southern Vipers at Southampton. 

“My main job is still to score runs for the Diamonds, which I don’t feel I’ve done as consistently this year so far. 

“I want to keep pushing that area, because that’s my key role – scoring runs and skippering. Then, if I can just add a bit of leg-spin, even better.”

Diamonds face Blaze at Headingley tomorrow morning as part of a double header with Yorkshire’s men, who face Derbyshire at 3pm in the Vitality Blast.

Blaze have won their first six matches to sit pretty at the top of the table. Should they win again tomorrow, it would qualify them for Finals Day on June 22 at Derby.

They beat Western Storm by seven wickets chasing 100 yesterday.

Sterre Kalis

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. Ajax football fan Sterre Kalis starred with the bat at Edgbaston. She is backing Diamonds to turn their T20 campaign around. 

In Scottish international all-rounder Kathryn Bryce, they have the competition’s leading run-scorer with 220. Captain and left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon is the competition’s leading bowler with 14.

At Edgbaston today, Armitage shared 97 for the second wicket with Sterre Kalis, who contributed 43 to the cause. They shared the region’s second highest ever T20 partnership. The Diamonds left Birmingham full of belief that, with four games left – 20 points to play for, they can bridge the nine-point gap to the top four and qualify for Finals Day.

Netherlands international Kalis said: “We definitely have to win all of our games, and that’s our focus. The momentum is with us, and we do believe we can still go to Finals Day.”

Kalis also had her say on Armitage’s development. 

“Batting with Holl, she is really good to learn from,” she said. She has a really good cricket brain, and the way she hits the ball is so clean and hard. Whenever she couldn’t find the boundary today, she hit the sweepers for two. I learn a lot from her.

“She’s been really handy for us as an option with spin. In the 50-over game against the Sparks last month, she got us over the line in that tight finish. And today, she was very effective. Leg-spin is quite a hard skill to master, but it’s coming out for her quite well. We’ve all got a lot of belief in her, and we definitely see her as a serious talent with the ball.”

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