The Northern Diamonds are hoping their forthcoming pre-season tour to Mumbai can be the springboard towards a trophy or two this coming summer. 

Coach Dani Hazell and her squad will fly to India on Friday for a tour which runs through until Tuesday March 26. 

They will be joined in the cricket-mad city by regional rivals Central Sparks, who they will face in a pair of friendlies on March 20 and 24 added to another game against to be confirmed local opposition. The first game against the Sparks is a T20 and the second a 50-over clash.

England duo Hollie Armitage, the Diamonds captain, and Bess Heath will not travel as they are on international duty in New Zealand, while assistant coach Kyle Coetzer is also with England A in the land of the long white cloud.

“We’re at the stage now where everyone is really keen to get outside,” said leg-spinner Katie Levick.

“It’s been a really good block of training indoors. 

Matt Anderson

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Matt Anderson has moved over from working with Yorkshire’s men to lead the Diamonds strength and conditioning programme.

“We have some new staff with us – Matt (Anderson) our new strength and conditioning coach is one – and everyone has really bought into the work ethic.

“I’m really excited to see how it all comes together in Mumbai.”

Levick continued: “I’ve never been to India. But as soon as it got announced, I was like, ‘That’s gold for a spinner’. There will be plenty of overs under the belt, and it’s exciting to get stuck into new conditions and visit a new country. I can’t wait.”

Levick had another outstanding year in 2023, claiming 36 wickets across both competitions – more than any other bowler in regional cricket. She achieved the same feat in 2022 with 27 wickets.

Last summer, she was named as the Diamonds players’ player of the year.

“I feel in a good place,” she said. “My fitness has come along, I’m bowling nicely, and I’ve been given the luxury of a lot of batting time with reduced numbers in the East Stand. A lot of girls have been away. 

Katie Levick

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Katie Levick will tour India for the first time.

“We have such a strong batting line-up that you don’t often get the opportunity down the order. But if I do, I want to contribute and really try and hold that tail-end together.”

This will be the second successive pre-season tour for the Diamonds, who last March travelled to Desert Springs in Spain for a week-long tour, playing matches against South East Stars and Sunrisers.

To be able to play regional opposition once more in Sparks is vital for preparations, says the Sheffield-born spinner.

“We want cricket which is representative of what we’ll face in the summer, so playing the Sparks will be an example of that,” she said. “We’ve played a lot of cricket with and against the Sparks players, so it will be nice from that perspective.

“It will be a good indicator as to where we are ahead of the season.

“Last year, in Desert Springs – even though it was only a week, it helped us immeasurably. 

Sterre Kalis

Picture by Northern Diamonds/YCCC. Sterre Kalis bats on last year’s pre-season tour of Desert Springs.

“We have a really good blend of youth and experience, and going on tour together really brought us together because it can be quite hard during a winter when girls are here, there and everywhere.

“This year will be a completely different for us in a country many of us have never been to. And I think the experiences off the field are going to be just as important as the challenges on it.”

The tour precedes an April 20 kick off for the new regional summer, the Diamonds facing cross-Pennine rivals Thunder at Durham in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

And the 2022 50-over champions have one thing on their mind after a mixed season last year saw a number of youngsters given their chance but ultimately no silverware.

Levick added: “We all play sport to win trophies.

“As much as it was a great learning experience last year, ultimately at some stage that experience has to result in something.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Dani Hazell will return to Mumbai, where she was in December as part of the England A coaching staff.

“Everyone is so keen to put in performances, and we’re definitely all capable. It’s the final year of the Diamonds in its current form, and we’ve all said that we want to be winning trophies.

“Yes, the progression can put a positive spin on it, but it’s only a success if you win trophies.”

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