There is no hiding away from it, the Northern Diamonds are unlikely to qualify for Finals Day in the Charlotte Edwards Cup having only won one of their seven games so far. But the players and coaches are still placing significant importance on their final three fixtures.

Diamonds are not mathematically out of the running for a top-four finish in the group. But with a 13-point gap to fourth place and only 15 points to play for, it would take a miracle for them to be heading to Derby on June 22.

However, what is well within their grasp is arresting their run of poor form ahead of the return to 50-over action at the end of the month.

After all, they are in a very healthy spot in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy having won four of their first six games. The region’s second 50-over title after success in 2022 is well within their grasp.

The final week of CE Cup action for the Diamonds starts with a trip to face Southern Vipers at the Utilita Bowl in Southampton on Friday afternoon (2.30pm).

England wicketkeeper-batter Bess Heath said: “One thing we’ve learnt about cricket is that momentum plays a big part.

“When you’re on a losing streak, it can be hard to get out of it. Similarly, as we’ve seen in the past, when you’re winning, you can just ride the wave.

Bess Heath

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Bess Heath slog sweeps en-route to her vibrant fifty in defeat against Blaze on Sunday.

“We’re in a really good position in the Rachael Heyhoe.

“If we can win three from three from now, great. It can still have an impact on our season even if it’s not enough to qualify us for Finals Day.

“We’ve got three games left, and we’ll go out fighting.”

Diamonds face a Vipers side who are the current holders of both regional titles having won last season’s double. They are also the back-to-back Charlotte Edwards Cup champions.

But they are by no means certain to qualify for Finals Day.

They are currently sat third in the table on 17 points – four wins, three defeats – and are four points clear of fifth-placed Thunder. Sandwiched in between are Central Sparks on 17 points.

Rachel Slater

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. Opening bowler Rachel Slater will be hoping to help Diamonds to a second CE Cup victory. 

Blaze are already qualified for Finals Day with 30 points, South East Stars are nearly there on 25. The race for the final two spots is realistically between Vipers, Sparks and Thunder. In that sense, Diamonds could act as spoilers, as they play both Vipers and Thunder in their last three games.

Vipers are coached by Charlotte Edwards, whose name adorns this trophy, and are captained by batting all-rounder Georgia Adams.

Left-arm spinner Linsey Smith is a potent bowling weapon the Diamonds know all too well having made the move from Headingley to Southampton at the end of 2022. She has struck seven times in this competition so far.

Australian all-rounder Charli Knott has been outstanding for them this summer. In the ongoing CE Cup, Knott has scored 179 runs opening the batting added to 13 wickets with her off-spin.

Diamond Heath, meanwhile, was excellent with the bat for 59 in Sunday’s defeat against Blaze at Headingley, her season’s best score in this competition.

The 22-year-old has now scored two half-centuries in 11 competitive appearances for the Diamonds across the two formats this summer – one in each.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Bess Heath.

Saying her form in 2024 has “ebbed and flowed”, the England up and comer is targeting more consistency.

“That’s a big aim of mine through the rest of the season,” added the powerful right-hander, who is often employed to give an innings impetus. “I think that can be difficult in T20, especially with the role that I play. Sometimes you can come in with 10 overs left, sometimes with only three left.

“Each situation is slightly different, more so in this format. But I do enjoy it.

“I’ve had conversations with the England coaches about it all. I’ve played that role for a lot of my career, and that’s where I feel most comfortable and want to be.

“It’s just about fine-tuning it and getting better at it. I’ll keep doing the process that I can control and go from there.”

This fixture against the Vipers is part of a T20 double header with Hampshire’s men, who play in the evening.

Linsey Smith

Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com. Current Viper Linsey Smith in action for Diamonds in the 2022 Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final against her current employers at Lord’s. The Diamonds won it.

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