Sophia Turner, the Northern Diamonds new fast bowling signing, just knew what was coming when the 2024 summer fixtures were released just  before Christmas – and she can’t wait.

“Yeah,” she smiled. “As soon as they came out, I thought, ‘It just had to be Thunder didn’t it’.

“There’s certainly no easing into it. It will be a good game, and we can’t wait.”

So, just to confirm, the Diamonds will start the summer on Saturday April 20 with a Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy clash against Lancashire Thunder at Durham’s Riverside ground.

Turner’s decision to cross the Pennines permanently ahead of this summer just adds spice to an already blockbuster fixture between the two arch-rivals. 

“I definitely have a point to prove,” continued the 19-year-old Lancastrian. 

“I worked really hard there for the last last three or four years, and if I get on that pitch in the first game I want to show them what I could have been doing for them.

“But getting the Diamonds off to a winning start, however it happens, is the most important thing.

“Hopefully with a win, that will set us up for the season nicely and give us the confidence we need to go on and win a trophy. We’re already confident, but that would just cement it.”

Turner has crossed the ‘Roses’ divide in search of greater opportunity.

Sophia Turner

Picture by YCCC. Sophia Turner is all smiles during training with the Diamonds in Mumbai earlier this month.

She debuted for them in 2020 – the first summer of regional cricket, going on to play 11 times competitively for them across almost four seasons. 

She claimed seven wickets before joining the Diamonds on loan for the closing stages of last season. 

She then took two wickets in a pair of RHF Trophy games in mid-September, doing enough to convince coach Dani Hazell to recruit her permanently.

“I knew this was the right move at the right time,” said Turner, who has just returned home from her new region’s 10-day pre-season tour of Mumbai.

“It felt like family from day one when I came here on loan, so when Dani asked me to join for the future, it was a no brainer. It made life so much easier coming in this winter. Everyone knew me. 

“I felt like I was doing everything I could to get a game at Thunder, but it just never came. 

“I didn’t have the opportunities there, but Dani saw something in me.”

Turner knows an appearance in that season opener against her former team is by no means set in stone, but she is confident of being able to shine if selected.

“I’m not sure whether or not I’ll slot straight in because we have loads of good players here – plenty of skill and plenty of talent,” she continued. “So there will be a lot of competition for places. 

“But hopefully the opportunities will come more often here.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Sophia Turner (c) during her loan spell with the Diamonds last September.

“The discussions here have been very open regarding my role and what they want from me when I do play. I’ll know exactly what I’m doing when I step foot on the field.”

Asked what Diamonds fans can expect to see when she does take the field, she said: “Bowling wise, it’s about coming in and hitting a hard length and making the batters do something special. Then I’ll throw in a variation every now and again.

“Batting wise, it’s whatever the game situation dictates. 

“If I’m needed to go in and score a few quick runs, I can. If I need to settle the game down after the loss of a few wickets, I’ll be comfortable doing that as well.”

Reflecting on the winter with her new team-mates, Turner said: “Every training session has had real purpose about it, and I feel it’s all started to come together for me.”

Ironically, Turner’s best display in a Thunder shirt actually came against the Diamonds in the Charlotte Edwards Cup at Headingley in June 2021.

On her regional T20 debut, she claimed a stunning 1-4 from four overs, claiming the wicket of Leah Dobson in an away victory. 

“When people talk about visualising before games, that’s a game I always look back on,” she revealed. 

“I actually have a clip on my phone of that day that I always look at before I play because that was me at my best. I just kept it simple and bowled full and straight.”

Turner added with a laugh: “I might not look at it before that first game of season, though!”

Picture by YCCC. Dani Hazell puts Sophia Turner through her paces in the field during the recent pre-season tour of Mumbai.

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