Northern Diamonds star Bess Heath has been backed to make the step up to senior England honours as she prepares to represent the national A side against Australia this week.
Heath and regional team-mate Lauren Winfield-Hill have been named in a 13-player squad for a three-day red ball warm-up match against the senior Australia side at Leicestershire’s Uptonsteel County Ground, starting tomorrow.
Winfield-Hill is captaining the side, while across the Midlands at Derbyshire’s Incora County Ground, England’s senior side are facing Australia A.
Both fixtures are warm-ups for the multi-format Ashes series starting with a Test Match at Trent Bridge on June 22.
Wicketkeeper-batter Heath, 21, has been in the England A set-up for the last 12 months, playing three matches last summer and posting scores of 13 not out, 43 and 84 not out.
But this, if selected, would be her first taste of red ball action.
She has impressed for the Diamonds across the first three and a half seasons of regional cricket, with her aggressive batting style entertaining and catching the eye.
Her fellow Diamond Katie Levick said: “Bam (nickname, owing to her initials Bess Alice May and no doubt her batting style) is brilliant.
“Hopefully one day we’ll see her in an England shirt. She certainly deserves it.
“She’s just as good with the gloves as she is with the bat. She’s very destructive with the bat. She’s definitely putting her name forward for further honours.
“I don’t think there’s many players out there like her. She hits it so hard at such a young age. She’s hit it 10 rows back at Headingley in the last few weeks.”
Alongside her batting, Heath has shared wicketkeeping duties for the Diamonds this summer with Winfield-Hill.
Heath has taken the gloves in the Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 and Winfield-Hill in the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
“I love it, and it works well to share the keeping about,” said Heath recently. “I absolutely love running around on the field.”
On her aggressive batting style, she said: “I’ve always tried to go in with a positive mindset.
“In the game of cricket, you’re going to get out more times than you come off. It’s about having clarity in your role. As long as you don’t make the same mistake twice, you’re always learning.”
Heath is not just catching the eye in England, but overseas too. Last winter, whilst playing grade cricket in Australia, she was drafted into the Melbourne Stars squad for their Big Bash League campaign.
“It was very unexpected to play a few games, but I loved it out there,” she added.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can when opportunities like that come around. They don’t come often, so it’s about being a sponge in those environments.”
England’s A team will also contest their own ‘Ashes’ series of ODI and T20 matches against Australia A. The squads for that series are yet to be announced.