Northern Diamonds remain confident they can go out with a bang and end the regional era in women’s domestic cricket as two-time Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy champions. 

Diamonds, 50-over champions back in 2022, head into the second half of their final season as a team in an encouraging position in the ongoing campaign. 

From 2025, the ECB are replacing the regional structure – in place since 2020 – with a county-led tiered structure. Yorkshire and Durham will form separate teams instead of the Diamonds. 

With eight games remaining in the RHF Trophy, the Diamonds are fourth in the table with an eight-point gap to fifth. They have won four of six games so far.

The top four teams – currently Sunrisers, South East Stars and champions Southern Vipers – will advance to the semi-finals in September. 

The RHF Trophy resumes this Sunday, against Central Sparks at Scarborough (10.30am), after a near two-month break for the Charlotte Edwards Cup T20.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Hollie Armitage could be lifting a second RHFT title come late September.

Things didn’t go well for the Diamonds, who missed out on Finals Day cricket, losing seven of their 10 games. But winning their last two gave them a significant lift. 

“We’ll use the last two games in the Charlotte Edwards as a bit of a springboard,” said coach Dani Hazell, whose side beat Western Storm and Thunder earlier this month. 

“We had some really close games in the T20s, and it’s been a bit of a story of our year. 

“I feel like we’ve had a lot of nail-biters in both formats. We came out on the wrong side of a few in the T20s and on the right side of a few in the 50-over stuff.

“We’re looking forward to getting back into that.”

Reflecting on the T20 performances, Hazell said: “We’re not getting away from the stark reality of not playing good enough cricket. But, if you’re going to take any positives, it’s that momentum we got at the end.

Phoebe Turner

Picture by John Heald. Phoebe Turner is set to return to the Diamonds line-up having only played once in the recent Charlotte Edwards Cup.

“We had a few girls who had a bit of exposure in the T20s, and it might stand us in good stead over the next few weeks.”

Four of the Diamonds remaining eight RHFT games come between Sunday and July 14, before a break for the Hundred. It’s clearly a key period. 

“How the season is spaced out this year, it gives you these little windows,” said Hazell. “It’s a two to two-and-a-half week-block, and your season can go one way or the other.

“We’re very confident in how we’ve played in 50-over cricket, and we just want to progress from a positive end to the T20s.”

While Diamonds fell on the wrong side of some tight games in T20 cricket, they were on the right side of them in the 50-over format at the start of the summer.

Their last RHFT clash was against South East Stars at Beckenham on May 8, a game they won by three runs defending a target of 312.

Picture by Olly Hassell/SWpix.com. Bess Heath will play this weekend before linking up with England for their T20 series against New Zealand.

Asked what her side did well in the early summer 50-over block, Hazell continued: “I wouldn’t say we played our best cricket.

“But when we got into situations where we needed to battle and somebody’s had to stand up, we did it.

“Especially with the ball, when we have that pack mentality and the girls really get behind each other in the field, I think that’s been a real strength of ours.”

The Diamonds played a friendly against Sparks at Leek on Thursday, with a number of senior players involved. 

All-rounders Abi Glen and Phoebe Turner both played. Glen didn’t play at all in the Charlotte Edwards Cup, while Turner only played once. Both were excellent in the opening 50-over block.

Perhaps the most significant inclusion at Leek, however, was Beth Langston’s.

Beth Langston

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Beth Langston played in a friendly against Sparks at Leek on Thursday.

The fast-bowling all-rounder, 31, has only played one competitive match since August 2022 having suffered an Anterior Cruciate (knee) Ligament injury. She claimed 2-32 from five overs in a friendly defeat.

She has been around the squad this summer battling back to full fitness, often travelling for away games as well.

If the Diamonds can get the former England seamer back on the park during the second half of the season, it will be a huge boost to their chances of success.

Sparks currently sit second bottom of the eight-team table in 50-over cricket having won two and lost four. 

Diamonds won the first fixture between the two this season by one run at Edgbaston in early May when they defended a target of 216. Captain Hollie Armitage took two of three wickets to fall in the last over, completing a remarkable comeback after Sparks had been 128-2 in the 30th over of their chase.

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