Jess Woolston is expecting the Northern Diamonds to prove why they’re champions and bounce back with gusto against Sunrisers at Chelmsford tomorrow. 

On Saturday, the Diamonds were beaten by Central Sparks at New Road in Worcester, losing their first match in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy since the September 2021 final

In winning by seven wickets chasing a 162 target, the Sparks ended a nine-match winning run for the Diamonds, which included the opening match of this season’s campaign against Western Storm at Headingley last Saturday. 

The Diamonds were off colour in all departments, but they are refusing to be too downbeat. Instead, they are going to try and use it to spur them on to another title come September time.

Tomorrow, they tackle a seemingly much-improved Sunrisers side at the home of Essex CCC, starting at 10.30am.

And new ball seamer Jess Woolston, who could be joined in the team by an exciting new addition, said: “It was a tough day, but we’ll go again.

Jess Woolston

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com – Jess Woolston

“I think sometimes you can learn more from a loss, and we will definitely be better for it. We look for positives all of the time, and we’ll make sure we switch on at Chelmsford.

“We’re the ones with that title, and we want it to stay with us. We’ve got our goal, and we’re going to stay in the fight until we get it.”

Reflecting on yesterday’s defeat, which saw the Diamonds slip from 121-3 to 161 all out before the Sparks chased down their target with relative comfort, Woolston said: “Lauren (Winfield-Hill) and Sterre (Kalis) got away really well, but we just lost wickets in clusters through the middle.

“Us Diamonds have been known for losing wickets in clusters, and we’ve generally found a way to recover. 

“Unfortunately, on this occasion, we found it hard to build a partnership and get going again.

“Myself and Lizzie (Scott) knew that we had to stay strong and stick to our plans, and what we can do with the new ball can sometimes change games. It didn’t quite work for us on this occasion, but it will come.”

Woolston was arguably the pick of the Diamonds’ bowlers yesterday, the 20-year-old from Stockton-on-Tees returning 1-21 from five overs.

It was only her third senior competitive appearance for the Diamonds, her first coming in last September’s final RHFT group stage win over Southern Vipers at Headingley when the Diamonds won to qualify for the following week’s Lord’s final. 

A Diamonds’ Academy graduate, the 20-year-old went on: “If you’d have asked me six months before making my debut, I would never have said that I’d be playing for the seniors that quick.

“It was a great opportunity for me to step up, and it did give me a lot of self confidence to take on the job of opening the bowling.

“It’s something I’ve been working on over the winter. It’s been one of my goals, and it’s a position I want to fill. For me, personally, it was a massive kick up the bum to show what I can do and realise that I’ve got a place in this team.

“Since making my debut, I’ve just wanted to improve and improve.”

Woolston, who is combining her cricket with studying for a Sports Coaching degree at Leeds Beckett University, knows the Diamonds will absolutely not be taking the Sunrisers for granted despite having beaten them in all four meetings so far across the RHF Trophy and the Charlotte Edwards Cup.

Sunrisers have won one and lost one so far this summer.

They claimed an impressive opening day victory over Southern Vipers last Saturday before losing to the Blaze at Chelmsford yesterday. Bowled out for 159, they lost by three wickets.  

“We faced them on pre-season tour in Spain and they beat us,” added Woolston.

“They look like they’ve done a lot of work in the winter – and fair play to them. But we’ll stick to our plans, and we’re confident we can get the win.”

Sunrisers have England Under 19s captain Grace Scrivens in their ranks, while they have also signed Australian-born Scotland international batter Saskia Horley on a short-term overseas contract.

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