Northern Diamonds start their preparations for the season with a 40-over friendly against Central Sparks on Sunday.
The fixture, that will be played at Edgbaston Foundation Ground in Birmingham, will see an opportunity for the Diamonds to get some match-action after a winter of hard work. Indeed, for four of them the off-season was their first as professional players, and one that has seen the whole squad make great strides in their own development.
Commenting on the winter program, Talent Manager Courtney Winfield-Hill said: “First and foremost I think the players have embraced the professional setup, both the pros and the wider squad. Their commitment has been really good, particularly during very interesting covid times.
“It has all been very new to them, and it’s new to their bodies with greater workloads so the strength and conditioning and physio staff have certainly earnt their money.
“It’s been great to see the girls challenging themselves. They’ve certainly broadened their horizons with their own games and I’m excited now to see that transition into some of the internal and friendly matches that we have coming up, starting with this weekend.”
“We are carrying a few injuries so a couple of younger players, including some from the Academy, will get a chance. It’s exciting.
“It’s early doors as we don’t play for another five weeks in the opening round of the Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy, but I think the friendly against the Sparks allows the girls to check in with where they are at, and hopefully be really proud of the work that they’ve done over the winter.
“For me, I spoke to the girls about this being a chance to show a bit of courage and trial some of the skills they’ve been working on throughout the winter. It’s a friendly, so it’s a safe space for them to go and play with some of the new cool tools that they’ve got.”
In a shortened 2020 season, the Diamonds showed off their talents with a hugely successful campaign in the Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy, that culminated in a final defeat at the hands of Southern Vipers. The showpiece event, that took place in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Edgbaston in September, really set a marker down for what this team can achieve.
Reflecting on last year’s campaign, Winfield-Hill said: “It adds to the excitement. Last year we made the final, which was fantastic, but we left disappointed. I think the hunger from the final has really driven the desire for these girls to really invest in their games and look for spaces where they can add elements to their games. I don’t think there’s any pressure, just excitement.”
Squad to face Central Sparks at Edgbaston Foundation Ground