Katie Levick has urged no let up from the Northern Diamonds as they continue their push for more silverware in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy. 

The Diamonds, champions in 2022, are on track for success in this season’s 50-over competition having won five of their opening seven matches.

It has been an excellent first half of the campaign, and star leg-spinner Levick and co sit third in the table on 21, just two off top spot in the group stage table (Southern Vipers).

More importantly, they are eight points clear of fifth-placed Blaze – the top four teams after the 14 group games all advancing to September’s semi-finals. The signs are encouraging, but Levick knows there is plenty of work still to do.

They face bottom side Western Storm at picturesque Cheltenham College on Sunday (10.30am) on the back of their most recent win over Central Sparks at Scarborough last Sunday, in which Levick claimed an excellent four wickets. 

Levick said: “There’s no easy games in this competition anymore, everyone‘s really competitive. 

Katie Levick

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Katie Levick celebrates taking one of her four wickets against Sparks at Scarborough on Sunday.

“We’ll be playing away from home at Cheltenham, so it’ll just be about putting in another good whole team performance.

“The game at Scarborough will be really good to have behind us, and we will just try and keep the momentum going and make sure we qualify as early as possible.”

The Diamonds beat Sparks pretty comfortably last weekend, chasing 240 to win with six overs remaining.

And they are in excellent form at present. Immediately before the resumption in 50-over cricket, they won their last two Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 matches even though they didn’t contribute to Finals Day qualification.

Added to that, they racked up a mammoth 413-9 in a thumping friendly victory over the Netherlands in a 50-over friendly at Headingley on Tuesday. 

They won by 189 runs in a fixture which saw Emma Marlow hit 97 and take three wickets. Erin Burns hit an unbeaten 113, while Levick struck twice as the visitors made 224-9.

Emma Marlow

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Emma Marlow is in fine form at present, highlighted by   97 in this week’s friendly against the Dutch national team, including her regional team-mate Sterre Kalis.

“It’s funny when you take a break for another competition, you can kind of forget about your momentum,” continued Levick. 

“We were doing pretty well in the 50-over stuff, we got four wins in the first block, and we wanted to continue that against Sparks.

“We didn’t have the T20 competition that we wanted, but we finished with two wins and took that to Scarborough. So it was really satisfying to kick off the new block with a win.

“We always think we’re a better 50-over side than a T20 one, but you can’t deny that your last memory is potentially a loss. Because of that, it was important to take performances (two late T20 wins) into the 50-over stuff, where I think we really excel. And we did that.”

Levick is having another impressive summer. Her 14 wickets in the ongoing RHFT means she is amongst the competition’s joint leading wicket-takers.

She also took 14 wickets in the Charlotte Edwards Cup.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Spin it to win it! Katie Levick bowls during this season’s RHF Trophy.

In all, the Sheffield-born twirler has taken 124 wickets for the Diamonds in competitive matches throughout the regional era, which started in the summer of 2020.

“I was really pleased,” she said, reflecting on her 4-46 return against the Sparks at Scarborough. “T20 can be a tough competition, especially when you’re a bowler. But it was nice to have long spells in that game.

“I always enjoy playing at Scarborough –  it’s one of my favourite grounds.

“There’s a bit of something for the bowlers, and it was nice to get some turn. 

“It was a nice first game back in the 50-over stuff. Hopefully it continues.”

This fixture is part of Gloucestershire’s near month-long Cheltenham Cricket Festival.

Phoebe Turner

Picture by John Heald. Phoebe Turner struck twice against the Sparks at Scarborough on Sunday having struck three times in beating Storm at Headingley earlier in the season.

From Sunday just gone through to Friday July 19, Gloucestershire’s men will have played a County Championship match and three Vitality Blast fixtures at the College ground.

The Storm are playing a pair of Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy matches, while England’s Under 19s are taking on Sri Lanka in a men’s Youth Test Match there.

Storm are captained by batter Sophie Luff, and they have Australian leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington as their overseas player. 

They have won two and lost five of their opening seven games. They lost their last game, by seven wickets against champions and league leaders Southern Vipers, last Sunday, failing to defend their 156 all out.

Bess Heath is likely to be unavailable for this fixture because of T20 international duty with England, who are due to start a five-match series with New Zealand this weekend. 

Diamonds beat Storm at Headingley in late April, by 10 runs having posted 275-9. Captain Hollie Armitage posted a superb 103. Abi Glen and Phoebe Turner claimed three wickets apiece to bowl Storm out for 265 in reply. 

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Hollie Armitage walks off with a century to her name against Storm at Headingley in April.

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