A superb bowling performance in helpful conditions ensured the Northern Diamonds got back to winning ways in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy with a convincing five-wicket success over the Sunrisers at the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford.

The Diamonds, in pursuit of 158, claimed their second win from three games – the champions bouncing back from Saturday’s defeat against Central Sparks at New Road.

Lauren Winfield-Hill led the chase with typically free-flowing 51 off 43 balls. It was her eighth score of 50 or more in her last 10 RHFT innings dating back to the start of last season.

Captain Hollie Armitage made 30 before Bess Heath won the game with a six over mid-wicket, finishing 32 not out off 25 balls. There were 21.3 overs remaining.

The platform for a bonus point (five points) victory was laid by new ball duo Jess Woolston and Lizzie Scott, who got the ball swinging and reduced the hosts to 17-3 inside seven overs.

Seamers Woolston (2-18 from seven overs) and Scott (2-27 from 10) were outstanding and finished with two wickets apiece. 

Fellow seamer Abi Glen matched them with 2-36 from seven as the Sunrisers struggled to recover and were bowled out for 157 in 46 overs. Leg-spinner Katie Levick finished with the pick of the figures, 3-23 from eight overs.

Somewhat surprisingly on a grey Essex morning, the Sunrisers opted to bat upon winning the toss. 

That thought was re-enforced when Woolston uprooted the off-stump of opener Cordelia Griffiths with a big hooping in-swinger which beat the batter through the gate, leaving the score at 11-1 in the fourth over.

When she struck again, getting one to go away from left-handed Grace Scrivens and clipping the England Under 19s captain’s off bail, it was 16-2 in the sixth.

Scott claimed her first wicket in the next over when Mady Villiers chipped into mid-wicket, where our new signing Katherine Fraser took a smart diving catch away to her right.

Abi Glen then struck in similar fashion when Australian-born Scottish international batter Saskia Horley picked out Hollie Armitage at mid-wicket (32-4 in the 13th).

Fraser bowled four tidy but wicketless overs of off-spin on debut, coming during a period when the Sunrisers consolidated through a 65-run alliance between Jodi Grewcock and Jo Gardner, the pair taking their side to within site of three figures.

Their partnership was very circumspect, eking out the runs rather than finding the boundary with regularity.

Both players hit two boundaries apiece, with Gardner making 32 off 60 balls and Grewcock 50 off 93.

Despite having to be patient for their wickets through the middle, the Diamonds were able to maintain control, and when they did get rid of Gardner and later left-handed Grewcock the innings was wrapped up pretty quickly.

Chloe Tryon bowled an advancing Gardner – caught in two minds and eventually defending, the score falling to 97-5 in the 31st. 

Scott then returned and had Amara caught caught behind by Lauren Winfield-Hill five overs later. And when Levick had Grewcock the same way, two balls after the batter had reached her fifty, the hosts were in deep trouble at 128-7 in the 39th.

Levick claimed two further wickets, Eva Gray and captain Kelly Castle falling lbw, before Abtaha Maqsood flicked Glen to deep square-leg to wrap up the innings at the end of the 46th over.

Katie Levick

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ – Katie Levick

Despite the Sunrisers only winning one game in the history of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, the Diamonds came into this fixture particularly wary of their threat having suffered a pre-season defeat against them in Spain in March.

But they never looked like repeating that result today. 

Winfield-Hill pulled two of the first four balls of the chase, from Kate Coppack, over mid-wicket for four, and 10 runs came from the first over. The Diamonds were off and running.

While the new ball swung early on for Woolston and Scott, that wasn’t quite as evident for the Sunrisers. What did continue was balls regularly keeping low. 

Winfield-Hill and opening partner Sterre Kalis were able to navigate that threat and shared 53 in nine overs, the former playing with more aggression and the Dutch international being more circumspect for her 14.

Lauren Winfield-Hill

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ – Lauren Winfield-Hill

But Kalis was the first to go when trapped lbw playing to leg by Castle’s seam.

By now, the clouds were looking quite ominous. And that may have been the reason why Winfield-Hill and Armitage opted to play with obvious intent.

Armitage drove the leg-spin of Maqsood wide of and over mid-off twice in the 13th over to move into double figures and take the score to 82-1.

Almost immediately afterwards, Winfield-Hill reached her latest fifty off 40 balls with eight fours. 

Winfield-Hill and Armitage were then two of three quick wickets for off-spinner Villiers – Armitage for 30. Both were trapped lbw, and sandwiched in between Phoebe Turner was bowled as the score fell to 120-4 in the 22nd over.

But it was all too little, too late for the Sunrisers.

Heath hoisted Villiers – 3-42 from 10 – over long-on for six as the Diamonds reached the 25-over mark at 138-4, needing 20 more to win. 

And even though Gray bowled Tryon (139-5 in the 27th), it was just about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on a victory which sets the Diamonds up nicely for Saturday’s meeting with the Blaze at Durham’s Riverside.

Heath’s second six, off Gray, was some way to win it.

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