Captain fantastic Hollie Armitage just loves a century against the Western Storm – her second against said opposition leading the Northern Diamonds to a hard-fought and nail-biting Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy win at Headingley. 

The Diamonds were in bother at 89-5 in the 21st over having been inserted at the start of a clash which swung this way and that, ultimately decided in the hosts’ favour by a 10-run margin. 

In new England international Armitage, a 26-year-old fresh from a senior debut in New Zealand last month, the region has a player of supreme quality on their hands.

Armitage hit 103 off 114 balls and was expertly supported by Phoebe Turner’s middle order 32 and Abi Glen’s brilliant late unbeaten 53 off 46 balls. The latter posted her maiden regional fifty on an overcast Headingley day.

In reply, both Turner and Glen claimed three wickets with their seamers, added to two for Erin Burns, as Storm were bowled out for 265, failing to get the 12 runs they needed off the last over from Glen with one wicket in hand. 

They had been well placed at 127-2 in the 23rd over. 

Hollie Armitage

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ Hollie Armitage celebrates her century today. 

Armitage has now scored three centuries in Diamonds colours, all in this competition. 

Her first – and highest, 131 not out – was against the Storm at Taunton in September 2022, and she ended that season with the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in her hands.

A repeat come this September would be amazing, thank you very much! 

Armitage was strong on both sides of the wicket. She drove with elegance and pulled with power against a Storm side which started brilliantly but wilted.

When Armitage debuted for England as a concussion substitute during a T20I against New Zealand at Nelson last month, Dani Gibson was in the same team. Today, she was in Storm green. 

Gibson took the new ball, removed openers Sterre Kalis and Lauren Winfield-Hill (32) – both bowled, and finished with 3-44 from her 10 overs of seam.

Hollie Armitage

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ Sophie Luff and Hollie Armitage at the  toss.

Kalis lost off and middle stumps following a beauty of a nip-backer and Winfield-Hill had her off-stump removed as she shaped to pull a ball which skidded on and kept low. 

Gibson’s good work was built on by Australian leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington, who bowled 10 overs on the reel through the middle of the innings and finished with 3-30.

She was the pick of the Storm attack.

She had Bess Heath caught at point, fellow Aussie overseas Burns bowled trying to cut a ball too close to her and Leah Dobson caught brilliantly by a diving Niamh Holland coming in from deep mid-wicket – 89-5.

Left-arm spinner Sophia Smale also claimed three wickets, but they were late in the innings after Armitage had done the bulk of the recovery work.

Storm were upset by a couple of dropped catches and misfields.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ Storm’s Sophie Smale is bowled by Phoebe Turner.

Armitage reached her latest century off 112 balls, only to fall caught at long-on two balls later off Smale – 247-8 in the 47th over.

From there, Glen took on the lead role. She clubbed three fours off England quick Filer in the last over, which went for 15, and reached her milestone off the last ball of the innings.

Just as they had done with the ball, Storm also made a positive start with the bat.

They reached 59-0 inside 13 overs thanks to openers Smale and Alex Griffiths.

Phoebe Turner then claimed the first two wickets with her seamers – Griffiths caught at deep mid-wicket by Glen for 26 and Smale bowled for 35, leg-stump out of the ground as the score fell to 80-2 after 15.

But Storm certainly gave the hosts something to think about. 

Bess Heath

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ The ball just evades England star Bess Heath in the field. 

At 127-2 at the start of the 22nd over, they had even benefited from five penalty runs as a Diamonds fielder tried to run into position as the bowler was running into bowl.

With former England international Fran Wilson and captain Sophie Luff at the crease, and well set, the visitors had their noses in front.

However, Burns struck twice in her first eight balls as the score fell to 139-4 in the 25th over, her bowling Wilson for 32 and Gibson for five. The tide had turned once more.

That theory was strengthened when Katie Levick had Luff caught at mid-off for 25, leaving the score at 160-5 in the 30th. 

Natasha Wraith ensured the Storm had some hope with 27, but their hopes were fading along with their run-rate. The Diamonds had put the squeeze on thanks to Burns, in particular. 

Phoebe Turner built on that good work amidst her return to the attack, bowling Wraith to leave the score at 192-6 in the 38th over. And, moments later, with 10 overs remaining Storm, needed 77.  

Abi Glen

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ Abi Glen was superb with bat and ball.

Diamonds, just like Storm, weren’t at their best in the field, and conceding 28 wides is something they will need to improve on going forwards.

Wellington hit an aggressive 28 and Niamh Holland a laboured 29, and both were bowled by Glen and Sophia Turner before the former bowled Mollie Robbins.

The Storm then needed 12 off the last with one wicket remaining. But Glen had Filer stumped to seal the win and finish with 3-42 from 8.2 overs. Turner returned 3-46 from 10. 

Diamonds face Southern Vipers at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.

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