Former Scotland captain and current Northern Diamonds assistant coach Kyle Coetzer has heaped praise on Hollie Armitage for her leadership abilities.

Coetzer has hailed all-rounder Armitage as “an excellent captain and a fantastic cricketer”.

Armitage is in her third full year as the the Diamonds captain, and with one Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title already under her belt she has overseen an encouraging start to ensuring that piece of silverware remains at Headingley.

The Diamonds have won two out of their three opening games this summer. They sit second in the early-season table on 10 points, two behind Saturday’s opponents the Blaze.

“I think she’s an excellent captain,” said Coetzer. “She wants to learn and is listening.

“She’s obviously got some experience from the last couple of years, but it’s a slightly different bowling attack that she’s having to manage this season. She’s having to use players in different ways.

“We had a couple of games away in pre-season, and it created some talking points that we were able to discuss. She’s taken that stuff on board really well.

“The way she chopped and changed bowlers around against Sunrisers on Monday, brought them back at different ends, was outstanding. She brought Lizzie Scott back to attack and hunt wickets at one stage.

“Hollie is doing a fantastic job, as is Dani Hazell as coach. They’re both leading this group incredibly well.”

Coetzer was speaking ahead of Saturday’s fourth round clash with the league-leading Blaze at Durham’s Riverside (10.30am). They have won two added to a rainy No Result.

He continued: “Hollie scored runs and took wickets last season, and she’s developing really nicely as a cricketer as well.

“Some of the shots in her 30 (against Sunrisers) were of high-class, playing with power and hitting through and over the field. She didn’t even give herself a chance to bowl, and she picked up a good number of wickets last season.

“I’m highly impressed with her, but not only that it’s the style the team is playing and how they’re all buying into it.”

The Diamonds have won both of their matches in convincing style, gaining a bonus from each (five-point haul). The first came against Western Storm at Headingley a week ago last Saturday and the second, last time out, against Sunrisers at Chelmsford on Monday.

Sandwiched in between, they lost to Central Sparks at Worcester on Saturday just gone.

“I’m sensing that, despite a blip on Saturday, the players are getting more consistent and understanding their roles when you look at where we’ve come from in the first game to now,” said Coetzer, new into his role for this season.

“They’re not always going to get it right, but as long as they understand what they’re trying to do then they’ll have the best chance to get it right.”

The Blaze have won two – both with a bonus point – added to a No Result against Thunder at Welbeck Colliery CC in Mansfield on Monday.

This is the Trent Bridge-based side’s first year in regional cricket having taken over operations from the Lightning, who had previously played out of Loughborough.

They have England players Tammy Beaumont, Sarah Glenn and Nat Sciver-Brunt in their squad, the latter who moved from the Diamonds over the winter but is yet to debut following a busy winter abroad on international and franchise duty.

The Blaze have also signed South African all-rounder Nadine de Klerk as their overseas player.

“We had a pre-season match against them, and it didn’t quite go to plan for us,” said Coetzer. “They’re a pretty strong unit with some good cricketers.

“But, you hear it a lot, and I believe it’s true, we need to focus on what we’re doing to be a good side.

“You’re going to come up against good cricketers, and you have to be willing to go out there and take them on. If we go out there with that mindset, we’ll fare really well. I’ve got full confidence in the players.”

Coetzer joined the Diamonds in March immediately following retirement from playing duties with Scotland.

And he added: “I’m absolutely loving it. The girls are great and really willing to learn. My first game against the Storm, they scored 290-odd in 36 overs. Wow.

“The style of cricket these girls are playing is incredible, and I feel pretty lucky to be a part of it. It’s really cool.”

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