Sophie Devine turns 28 on Friday September 1, which clashes with Kia Super League Finals Day at Hove. Let’s face it, title success with the Yorkshire Diamonds would be a gift hard to top.
Multi-talented New Zealander Devine has swapped the purple of Loughborough Lightning for the sky blue of the Diamonds this summer.
One of the game’s biggest hitters, she reached the 2016 semi-final, only to be beaten at Chelmsford by Western Storm, who in turn were beaten in the final by Southern Vipers.
Tomorrow afternoon, all-rounder Devine begins her bid to make up for that disappointment with her new team as they take on the biggest challenge of all – Lancashire Thunder at Headingley (2.30pm).
Last year, the Diamonds won only one of five matches and finished second bottom in the table above the Thunder.
On paper, it would seem a huge leap to go from that kind of campaign to winners in the space of 12 months. But the White Fern sees no reason why not.
“I know the girls were disappointed with how they went last year,” said Devine, who is excited by the move from the East Midlands.
“But there are new players, new coaches, and there’s no reason why we can’t bring home the trophy.
“I said if they needed players to move around, I’d put my hand up – and they did. So here we are.
“I really enjoyed my time at Loughborough, but it’s a new and exciting challenge. Being based here at Headingley is fantastic.
“I’ve heard a lot about the Roses rivalry. It’s fantastic that it’s a double header with the men.
“You talk about rivalries around the world, Australia and England, New Zealand and Australia, there’s plenty there. The two Roses sounds like it’s right up there. We’ll be right on it.”
When asked whether she would be staying around to watch the evening men’s Blast clash, she added with a smile: “It would be rude not too.”
Devine, who also bowls seamers and has taken 57 wickets from her 60 T20 internationals added to 1,171 runs, is one of three new Diamonds overseas players alongside Chamari Atapattu and Sune Luus from Sri Lanka and South Africa.
She will come up against fellow Kiwis Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu as well as Australian Jess Jonassen.
Tahuhu and Jonassen are new Thunder recruits, while Satterthwaite captained last year but has handed the reins over to England’s Danielle Hazell.
That Hazell was a Diamond last year and still plays her county cricket for Yorkshire is just another thing to throw into the melting pot.
“It’s almost as though the internationals cancel each other out,” added Devine, who has also represented New Zealand at hockey, narrowly missing out on selection for the London Olympics in 2012 before concentrating on cricket.
“The one thing that really impressed me last year was the quality of the county players.
“That was a lot of the talk, ‘is there going to be a massive gap between the internationals and the county players?’ But there wasn’t, and I thought it was fantastic.
“At Loughborough, our county players stepped up. I don’t see why that won’t be the case with Yorkshire.”
Coach Paul Grayson has reported no injury issues ahead of a final warm-up match at Barnsley today. He plans to take his full squad of 15 to all matches.
Meanwhile, Headingley based coaching company Pro Coach Yorkshire Cricket has been announced as the Diamonds new shirt sponsor.
Yorkshire Diamonds from: Winfield c, Armitage, Atapattu, Brunt, Butler, Crofts, Davidson-Richards, Devine, Graves, Gunn, Levick, Luus, Nicholls w, Thompson, Walsh.