MATCH CENTRE 

The Northern Diamonds were beaten by nine wickets in their top of the table Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy clash with leaders the Blaze at Chesterfield as a failure to build on an excellent start with the bat cost them dear.

Lauren Winfield-Hill’s stunning 50-over form continued at the top of the order with 56 off 58 balls, and she shared 55 inside 12 over for the first wicket with Sterre Kalis.

But the Diamonds, having elected to bat, slipped to 147-9 before a late rally boosted that to 185 all out. Last-wicket pair Grace Hall and Jess Woolston shared 38.

Unfortunately, however, that was in vain as Blaze knocked off the runs inside 25 overs of their chase at a parched Queen’s Park to win their fifth game in seven and consign the Diamonds to a third defeat in seven. 

England opener Tammy Beaumont, fresh from her recent Test Match double century against Australia, led a routine chase with a season’s best 83 not out off 62 balls, sharing an unbroken 156 in 18 overs for the second wicket with Scottish international Sarah Bryce, who finished unbeaten on 53. 

At the halfway stage of the group campaign, Blaze – having claimed five points from this win – have 28 points. The Diamonds have 19 and could drop to third place in the table by the end of the day. 

The Diamonds were hurt by the fact that a number of batters got starts but failed to go on in the Derbyshire sunshine. Kalis made 12, Emma Marlow 11, Bess Heath 25 in her home town and Leah Dobson 24.

They were faced with a Blaze bowling performance which improved significantly following a slow start, with seamer Sophie Munro claiming 3-35 from 10 overs and debutant Cassidy McCarthy an excellent 2-17 from nine.

While Munro claimed all of her wickets through the middle of the innings, including Heath caught in the deep on the leg-side and Phoebe Turner bowled next ball as the score fell to 131-6 in the 26th over, McCarthy was arguably the pick of the bowlers.

She is a tall 20-year-old making her first senior regional appearance following ankle surgery and had Leah Dobson caught on the deep mid-wicket boundary and then Katie Levick caught behind cutting.

Winfield-Hill started like a train, backing up the century she scored in Sunday’s victory over the South East Stars at Beckenham. 

She hit six boundaries in her first 15 balls and helped the score to 36-0 after five overs.

The England batter hit well straight down the ground and through the covers and extended what is now a quite remarkable record in this competition since the start of last season.

In 14 innings, she has gone beyond 50 on 10 occasions, including two hundreds. She has only posted two scores lower than 42, and her 862 runs have come at an average of 71.83.

She reached her latest fifty off 52 balls, though it was a shame she only faced six more deliveries – bowled by Lucy Higham’s off-spin to leave the score at 105-4 in the 23rd over

Captain Hollie Armitage had earlier fallen for eight on her return to regional action following England A duty. She was caught at mid-off against opposing skipper Kirstie Gordon, the former England left-arm spinner. 

Heath was in the same England A team as Armitage, and she started well with a quintet of boundaries before falling to Munro, who got Turner immediately and later bowled Lizzie Scott.

In all, the Diamonds lost nine wickets for 92 runs, slipping from 55-0 in the 12th over to 147-9 in the 33rd.

From there, Hall and Woolston chiselled out a highly valuable partnership to give the hosts something to think about.

Both hit two boundaries, with Hall finishing unbeaten on 21 and Woolston contributing 13 before falling to the seam of Teresa Graves, the twin sister of Diamond Yvonne.

Despite the fightback, Blaze would still have been delighted to bowl their visitors out for less than 200 inside 46 overs.

And early wickets were needed for the Diamonds.

Levick got one when Marie Kelly played on for 16 – 33-1 in the seventh over.

But that was as good as it got, with Scotland wicketkeeper-batter Sarah Bryce uniting with Beaumont to take their side home.

Blaze reached 100-1 in the 16th over. 

Bryce initially led the way before being overtaken in the thirties by the England opener.

And when Beaumont reached her fifty off 49 balls, the Blaze were in complete control at 140-1 after 21 overs and on course for the fourth bonus point win in eight matches.

Beaumont was strong on both sides of the wicket and hit 11 fours and two sixes, the latter off Woolston over long-off and Levick over cover.

Bryce reached her off 60 balls in the 25th over, moments before Beaumont hit the winning runs.

The Diamonds are back in action against cross-Pennine rivals Thunder at York on Tuesday. 

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