A brilliant unbeaten century from Northern Diamonds captain Hollie Armitage guided her side to a rain-affected six-wicket win over Western Storm at Cheltenham, boosting their hopes of a second Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title. 

Armitage finished on 101 not out off 76 balls and was there at the game’s climax to hit the winning runs as Diamonds went a long way to securing a top-four finish with their sixth win in eight games. 

Even with six still to play through to September, the Diamonds are in a great position on 25 points, 12 clear of fifth-placed Blaze. 

Armitage continued her love affair with playing against Storm. Of her five career List A centuries, three of them have come against this opponent, including two this season. She scored a superb 103 in beating Storm at Headingley in April. 

A delayed start due to rain had reduced the game to 34 overs, with further delays seeing the visiting chase reduced to 30 overs and then 29 after the hosts posted a tricky score of 200-5.

But Armitage’s innings, along with supporting roles from Sterre Kalis (34) and Erin Burns (21no) saw Diamonds romp home with 14 balls to spare.

Hollie Armitage

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ That winning feeling! Phoebe Turner (l) and captain Hollie Armitage.

After a frustrating two-and-a-half-hour wait, the players finally got on the pitch at the picturesque surroundings of Cheltenham at 1pm, with Diamonds winning the toss.

The decision to bowl first looked a good one when Sophia Smale mistimed a short ball from Abi Glen straight to Lauren Winfield-Hill at mid-on in the third over for eight.

Storm were scoring freely but were pegged back again in the sixth over when Rachel Slater produced a peach of a delivery to edge Sophie Luff’s bat through to Bess Heath, with the skipper departing for just four and the hosts tottering on 26-2.

From there, things became much more difficult for the visitors as opener Emma Corney and Fran Wilson came together and began to compile an impressive third-wicket partnership.

The pair had put on 61 runs before Corney skied a Phoebe Turner delivery to Kalis at point for 40, whereupon the much-threatened rain returned accompanied by thunder and lightning, forcing the players to depart.

When they returned, four overs had been lost.

Abi Glen

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ Abi Glen impressed with two wickets.

And, with wickets in hand, Storm began to press home their advantage with another well-constructed partnership between Wilson and Natasha Wraith.

Upping the run-rate and barely presenting a chance, the fourth-wicket pair took the score to 147 before Wraith hit a drive straight to Armitage off Glen (2-24 from six overs) for 34.

The visitors received a blow when Slater was forced off the field with a hand injury after a caught and bowled attempt, with Storm closing their innings on 200-5 after Australian Amanda-Jade Wellington was run out off the final ball for a quick-fire 27 off 14 balls.

Wilson finished unbeaten on 61.

Following a DLS adjustment, Diamonds faced a target of 204 to win off 30 overs, but they received an early dent when Winfield-Hill was out in the second over for seven.

When fellow opener Emma Marlow departed in the seventh over for 12, Diamonds were 46-2 with the game really in the balance and the target looking a tall ask.

Sterre Kalis

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ Sterre Kalis chipped in with a crucial 34 to help achieve victory.

What was required was a captain’s innings, and Armitage obliged as the skipper and Kalis built the partnership that defined the innings.

Armitage especially was in a belligerent mood and reached her half-century off 41 balls shortly before Kalis departed for 34 after playing on to a Niamh Holland delivery which kept low (118-3 in the 18th over).

Heath came and went for 10, but Armitage kept going.

With Burns for company, she began to steer Diamonds to victory at a rapid rate.

Fittingly, the skipper finally reached her century by hitting the winning runs to finish on 101 not out, including nine fours and a six. 

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