Katie Levick believes the Northern Diamonds are ideally placed to slot into place the missing piece in their silverware jigsaw – the Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 title.
The regional 20-over competition begins on Friday evening for the Diamonds, under lights at Headingley (6.30pm) when they welcome the Western Storm.
And confidence is high within the squad that they can better their 2021 beaten finalists finish and add to last season’s 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy triumph.
It has been an encouraging start to the summer for leg-spinner Levick and her team-mates, them winning three and losing two of their RHF Trophy fixture.
Their last outing saw them claim an impressive three-wicket win over South East Stars at Scarborough when they chased a revised target of 178 on the back of a maiden five-wicket haul for new ball seamer Jess Woolston.
“We’ve always been more dominant in the 50-over stuff, reaching all three finals and winning last season,” said Levick. “But, looking at the make-up of our team this year, we think we could be geared quite well to T20.
“We’ve got Chloe (Tryon), who is so destructive. Her and Bess (Heath) could be brutal in that middle order. You’ve also got Loz (Lauren Winfield-Hill) setting the tone up top. She’s been scoring like a train in the 50-over stuff. Hollie (Armitage), as well.
“We look like we’re in a really strong position, and I actually think our skill could be more suited to T20.”
Levick has described an encouraging start to 2023 for the Diamonds.
“Coming off the back of a really dominant season when we were unbeaten in 50-over cricket, you’d like to follow it up. But I think it’s been reflective of how strong all the regions are now and it being more even.
“Most teams have beaten each other, so to go into the break with three wins and two losses – third in the table – has put us in a really good position.
“It was a really commanding performance against the Stars to finish that first block of matches.
“To have Scotty (Lizzie Scott) and Wooly (Jess Woolston) open the bowling and look completely at ease doing it at their age has been brilliant.”
In the opening match of this season, against the Storm at Headingley – a 105-run win – Levick reached the 300-wicket mark in all senior List A and T20 cricket.
Last year, she was the leading wicket-taker in the Charlotte Edwards Cup with 15.
“Personal milestone are nice, but you remember the trophies you’ve won,” she said. “There’s no point in getting 300 wickets and being on the losing side of things.
“I just want trophies for the Diamonds, and this T20 is the one that’s eluded us so far.
“It was nice to pick up so many wickets last year, a five-for and a four-for. It doesn’t always happen that way in T20 cricket.
“This year, I’m feeling in really good rhythm with the ball. Hopefully I can carry that on.”
Levick expects coach Dani Hazell and captain Hollie Armitage to be tackling a range of selection headaches as the competition goes on: “It’s a great place for us to be,” she said.
Another one on the horizon comes in the form of the impending return to action of spearhead fast bowler Beth Langston, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury last August.
“Fingers crossed, Langers has done the perfect rehab and is looking really strong,” said Levick.
“She’s doing all disciplines now, and fingers crossed we’ll see her sooner rather than later.
“She will give us a massive lift. You forget she’s a World Cup winner, and she’s brilliant with bat, ball and in the field. She’s also another head for Hollie to have in the field.”
While the Diamonds will field overseas South African all-rounder Chloe Tryon, the Storm will include fledgling Ireland all-rounder Orla Prendergast.
England captain Heather Knight should also be available to face her international colleague Lauren Winfield-Hill.
The Storm have started the season with a win, two defeats and a pair of rainy No Results in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
One of those defeats was the aforementioned season opening 105-run defeat at Headingley last month when the Diamonds racked up 290-8 in 36 overs thanks to 75 from Winfield-Hill, 71 from Bess Heath and 63 from Tryon on debut.
In reply, Storm were bowled out for 185.
Levick finished with 4-36 from eight overs, and she added: “We felt really confident against them in that game at Headingley, and we’d like to think that Friday night under lights, with some good home support, we can get off to a flyer.”
If you are planning to attend Friday’s game. Here is everything you need to know.