When Rachel Slater bowled Nat Wraith with almost the perfect inswinging yorker on Sunday, ripping out middle stump, it was a significant moment – not just in the context of victory over Western Storm but also in the season of a young bowler who hasn’t always had it easy for the Northern Diamonds.

It was an eye-catching dismissal which left Storm 1-2 after one over chasing 147 at Headingley and continued an encouraging recent run of form for the left-arm Scottish international seamer.

Slater, 22, has taken two wickets in each of her last two matches and currently has nine wickets from as many outings in the Charlotte Edwards Cup.

Given she missed pretty much the whole of last season through injury and time away from the game, it is heartening to hear her speak so enthusiastically about the start of 2024, which began with her helping Scotland qualify for T20 World Cup in Bangladesh later this year.

Through April and May, she finished as the leading wicket-taker with 11 in the ICC’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifiers event in Abu Dhabi. 

“I feel like I’m having a really good year,” said Slater, ahead of Wednesday’s Charlotte Edwards clash with Lancashire Thunder at Durham’s Seat Unique Riverside.  

Rachel Slater

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Rachel Slater (l) is all smiles alongside Rebecca Duckworth after Northern Diamonds beat Storm at Headingley yesterday. Katie Levick applauds in the background. 

“It obviously started in Abu Dhabi, but I also feel like it’s probably the best I’ve had for the Diamonds so far as well. 

“Hopefully I can continue with that and take it forwards into the back end of the year with Scotland when we go to the World Cup.

“But I’m not thinking too far ahead. My focus is solely with the Diamonds. 

“I love playing for the Diamonds, and we’re still chasing a trophy in the Rachael Heyhoe (Flint) stuff. Then I’ll start thinking about the World Cup after that.”

The clash with Thunder on Wednesday (11.30am) is the final group game of the CE Cup. Neither side can qualify for Saturday’s T20 Finals Day at Derby.

But there are never any Roses friendlies – even if points and prizes mean little.

Rachel Slater

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. Rachel Slater celebrates a Charlotte Edwards Cup wicket. 

“It’s going to be a good one,” said Slater. “It will be a great day, it always is against them. Hopefully we can get another win.

“It’s been said a lot, but it’s so important for us going back into that 50-over block. 

“Losing game after game can make it difficult, but we’ve got a couple of wins on the board in the last week or two and another will help with that momentum.”

The Diamonds comfortably beat Storm at Headingley on Sunday, defending the 147 target to win by 28 runs. Hollie Armitage’s stunning 97 was the standout performance, added to by a number of valuable contributions, including Slater’s new ball two-for.

“It’s obviously been a tough T20 tournament,” she reflected. “But, to be fair, we’ve not been far off in a lot of games. 

“It was nice to get one over the line at home, and we felt in control for pretty much the whole game. It was a great performance.”

Rachel Slater

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Rachel Slater bowls against Storm yesterday.

On the dismissal of Wraith, she said: “I’ve been really happy with how I’ve been executing my yorkers recently.

“The first half of the comp, I didn’t find much swing. But the last few games, the new ball’s been swinging a lot, and I’ve felt a lot more dangerous. 

“To get a few early was nice, and if you can do that it puts the team in a good position.”

For the last two games – the Storm win and a narrow defeat against champions Southern Vipers at Southampton on Friday – Slater has bowled her four overs straight through with the new ball. 

“When the new ball’s swinging, that’s when I’m at my best and that’s what I want to be doing,” she said. “I do enjoy bowling at the death. But, when the new ball’s swinging like that, it makes a lot of sense for me to bowl up top. 

“I’m more than happy to do it – whatever the teams needs from me.”

Katherine Fraser

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Katherine Fraser has been impressive for the Diamonds. 

Slater, fellow seamer Sophia Turner and spinner Katie Levick all took two wickets apiece against Storm, but flying under the radar was her compatriot Katherine Fraser.

The teenaged off-spinner was excellent for 1-22 from her four overs. The 19-year-old has struck once in four of her last five games and maintained pressure impressively. On Sunday, the Storm really struggled to get her away through the middle of their chase. 

“She’s been class – very consistent,” added Slater. 

“She’s maybe been a little bit frustrated that she’s been short of wickets at times, but she’s deserved more having bowled really well and contained teams, as she did to Storm. She’s so young and is only going to get better. It’s really exciting for her.”

Thunder have won three of nine games so far. They suffered a last-ball defeat to Central Sparks at Edgbaston on Friday to end their Finals Day hopes.

They beat Diamonds convincingly on the opening day of this competition at Emirates Old Trafford last month.

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