A brilliant team performance by Northern Diamonds helped them pick up a four-wicket win in their Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy clash with Central Sparks at North Marine Road, Scarborough today. 

Diamonds, who have now won three consecutive games across all competitions – and five in seven in this competition, were on top for the bulk of proceedings on the Yorkshire coast, with Bess Heath, Katie Levick and Emma Marlow in fine form.

Leg-spinner Levick took four wickets to help restrict the Sparks to a total of 239-8, with half-centuries from Sparks’ Davina Perrin and Katie George in a back-and-forth innings.

Lauren Winfield-Hill was then at her best in the powerplay, giving the Diamonds a platform with a quick-fire 46 from 48 balls.

But fellow opener Marlow took charge and made the most of being dropped on five, as she made 55, and combined well with skipper Hollie Armitage. It was magnificent Marlow’s maiden half-century at first-team level.

A two-wicket over from Bethan Ellis did give Diamonds a scare at 143-4 after 29, but Heath made an unbeaten 58 as she took the hosts over the line with six overs to spare.

Burns and Heath

Picture by John Clifton/ Erin Burns congratulates Bess Heath upon reaching her fifty. 

Sparks won the toss and opted to bat, but Diamonds made a brilliant start as overseas star Erin Burns bowled the visitors’ skipper Eve Jones for one in the first over.

Chloe Brewer looked good early on – but Levick, who is now the tournament’s joint-top wicket taker with 14, got her first of the day as the Sparks opener was lbw for 37.

Phoebe Turner then got in on the act for Diamonds as Katherine Fraser took a brilliant diving catch at fine-leg to remove Abbey Freeborn for 19. 

With the visitors at 69-3 after 17, the Diamonds were in a great position. 

But Courtney Webb and Perrin combined well to take the visitors past 100.

The impressive Australian Webb then departed with Turner bowling her for 37 to give the Diamonds a vital breakthrough after a 71-run stand for the fourth wicket – 140-4 in the 31st. 

Katie Levick

Picture by John Clifton/ Katie Levick celebrates one of her four wickets in today’s win over Sparks. 

Perrin made a 68-ball fifty, but she was Levick’s second victim of the day, caught behind for 50.

The wickets then continued to come for the hosts with Fraser getting Ellis for a five-ball duck (176-7 after 38).

Diamonds then struggled to cope with the fluent George as she counter-attacked, regularly finding the boundary.

But Levick struck again at a key time, removing Emily Arlott – 207-7 in the 45th. However, the positive George reached her fifty from 53 balls.

Levick – 4-46 – put the cherry on the top of a brilliant bowling performance as she trapped George in front of her stumps for 52 in the penultimate over and Sparks set Diamonds 240 to win.

Diamonds started their chase in solid fashion, chipping away at the total in the first few overs, but Winfield-Hill picked up the pace with a delightful four straight over the bowler’s head.

Bess Heath

Picture by John Clifton/ Bess Heath pulls en-route to a match-clinching fifty. 

Marlow was dropped in the slips and struggled to get going initially.

Meanwhile, her opening partner Winfield-Hill nutmegged bowler Arlott with a beautiful straight driven four.

The England international was attacking a Sparks bowling attack that offered plenty of width, regularly finding the off-side boundary during the powerplay.

Much to the relief of the Sparks bowlers, Winfield-Hill departed for 46 after being caught by mid-off from the bowling of leggie Hannah Baker.

The loss of Winfield-Hill checked the Diamonds’ progress slightly at 65-1 in the 12th over, but skipper Armitage and Marlow made sure they rotated the strike and navigated a tough period.

They took Diamonds past the 100 mark in assured fashion, then Armitage went on the attack with two fours in an Ellis over, leaving the hosts in a good position at the halfway mark.


Picture by John Clifton/ Diamonds celebrate today’s win at Scarborough. 

Unfortunately, Armitage was then removed by Georgia Davis for 28 – 124-2 in the 26th over – but that didn’t halt the progress of the Diamonds with Marlow passing 50 from 70 balls.

Sparks fought back through a two-wicket over from Ellis, which injected some jeopardy into what was a smooth chase for the hosts.

She bowled the impressive Marlow for 55, before getting Sterre Kalis lbw for seven.

Heath and Burns then came in and rebuilt well from 143-4 in the 29th, with Burns producing an eye-catching reverse sweep for four to make further inroads into the target.

Meanwhile, Heath showed the form that got her into the England T20 squad for the New Zealand series as she found the boundary with ease and made batting on a surface that others struggled on look easy, hitting eight boundaries in her 58.

There was a two-wicket burst in the final over, but the game was all but sealed – and Heath hit the winning runs, which puts her side third in the table, just two points behind the Southern Vipers in top spot with seven games remaining.

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