When Helen Plimmer arrives at Headingley on Sunday, the former Yorkshire women’s County Championship winner – also an ex-England World Cup champion – will get an instant reminder of her achievements with bat in hand.

Plimmer forms part of the county’s legends wall on the back of the East Stand which welcomes visitors through the venue’s main gates. 

“Oh really,” she questions with a surprise. “ I didn’t know that. I’ll have to go and take a peak. I hope I’m not playing a slog!”

Plimmer hasn’t been to Headingley for quite some time as she is Milton Keynes based but returns having been invited to the forthcoming T20 double header with the Northern Diamonds and Yorkshire’s men as part of the county’s celebration of women’s sport.

A number of past Yorkshire stars also attended last month’s women’s IT20 between England and Pakistan at Headingley and more will do so to watch Northern Diamonds take on Western Storm in the Charlotte Edwards Cup before Yorkshire’s men face Leicestershire in the Vitality Blast later in the day.

Plimmer’s achievements during a 12-year career starting in 1985 make it obvious why her photo adorns the entrance to Headingley. 

She was part of six County Championship title successes in 1986, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997. In recorded matches, she contributed 1,644 runs from 48 appearances for Yorkshire, including 10 fifties and two hundreds, as a top order batter. 

Helen Plimmer

Picture by YCCC. Helen Plimmer is honoured as part of the legends wall on the back of Headingley’s East Stand.

Added to that, Plimmer played 46 times for England – nine Tests and 37 ODIs – and scored 1,129 runs with six fifties and one hundred. She was part of the team which beat New Zealand at Lord’s in 1993 to win the World Cup. 

“When you reflect back, it’s always really nice to be able to represent your county and country – and for it to not be particularly short-lived as well,” she said. 

“Whether it was coaching or playing, I was in the game for quite some time really. I absolutely loved it.

On her Yorkshire career, she continued: “We were very lucky that we had a lot of strength in depth. A lot of the players were either current or former England players. We had a great all-round squad, and it was our golden era as a county.

“It was very enjoyable – almost as enjoyable as playing the international stuff, which is seen as the pinnacle.

“It was a fun team to play in, and that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the internationals because I did. But the fact we were all mates at Yorkshire, including playing against each other in club cricket, that was lovely thing about it.”

Despite her plethora of titles with Yorkshire, she describes winning the World Cup as “my greatest achievement”. 

Yorkshire women

Picture courtesy of Linda Burnley. Yorkshire women. Captain Sue Metcalfe running at the camera. Burnley is seated on Sue’s right. Back row: Janet Tedstone, Kathryn Leng, Helen Plimmer, Sally Stevenson, Claire Taylor, Karen Jobling. Front row: Bev Nicholson, Debra Maybury, Linda Burnley, Sue Metcalfe, Mary Pat Moore, Melissa Reynard.

County colleagues Claire Taylor and Gill Smith were also in the team which beat New Zealand, which was actually a small number compared to many of her other international appearances. 

For example, her England debut (against Netherlands in 1989) saw six other Yorkshire players feature alongside her. Current county president Jane Powell was captain. 

Her final England appearance, on Boxing Day 1997, was against New Zealand in the semi-final of the World Cup at Chennai. She was one of five Yorkshire players in that side.

“Even if they weren’t in the team, there were a lot of Yorkshire players in and around the squad, training at Lilleshall,” said Plimmer. 

“We, as a county, benefitted from that because we had that run when we were successful year on year.”

Plimmer praised Powell, who captained both England and Yorkshire through their glory years of the 1990s.

“Jane kept us laser focused,” she recalled. “She was a very, very good captain.

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Jane Powell, Yorkshire’s current president and former title-winning captain.

“It goes without saying that quite a lot of our success was down to having a good captain. 

“All the other jobs she’s had across various sports in coaching, management, strategic development, it’s no surprise that she is where she is.

“I’m sure she is doing a very good job as president and will continue to do so.”

Plimmer was actually born in the Solomon Islands, explaining: “My dad was in the Colonial Service. He was a district officer in Honiara, which is the capital of the Solomons. That was where I was born. We were probably there until I was four before we came back to the UK.”

Unfortunately, she never actually played at Headingley for club or country, despite playing at some amazing venues around the world such as Wellington, Delhi, Lord’s, Mohali and Chennai.

“That was a shame,” she said. “The closest we got was the University ground at Weetwood.

“But one of the nicest venues we used was Cambridge, and the County Championship was often played there over a week in a Festival of Cricket type thing.

Helen Plimmer

Picture by Graham Chadwick – Allsport/Getty Images. Helen Plimmer in England colours in 1997.

“Quite often we would be camping the night before. One night, I think we even stayed in a church before a game. It was really basic stuff and quite primitive when we were youngsters. But we managed to progress, and the game’s moved on even further now.”

Plimmer married playing with coaching during a special career. 

“We were very fortunate that, amidst the county structure, they were very keen for the women to do a lot of coaching,” she said. “I did a lot at the Indoor School at Headingley and worked through the qualifications there.

“There was quite a lot done at the Indoor School, in clubs, introductory stuff. It was all about bringing the youngsters on. I trained as a PE Teacher and did lots of cricket development for girls in school as well.”

Despite her involvement in cricket now just being limited to watching, she is very aware of what is going on in the game and is delighted with its development from a women’s standpoint.

“I haven’t had much involvement since I stopped playing and coaching (in 1997),” she said.

“We were very fortunate to get invited to Lord’s to watch England win the World Cup in 2017.

Bess Heath

Picture by Michael Bradley – ECB/Getty Images. Helen Plimmer is likely to watch current England player Bess Heath in action on Sunday.

“I like to go and watch some of the Hundred matches. We go and watch London Spirit, who are local to Milton Keynes. I’ve also enjoyed watching the women’s IPL on TV.

“The Hundred’s been a very good intermediate step to playing alongside other internationals. As a development tool, it’s been a great success. The spectator numbers have been great, and for younger girls to have something to aspire to is brilliant.

“The opportunities for girls to make a career out of the game are fabulous.

“Women’s cricket in England has been good for a long time, but we do still have some way to go to chase down Australia. I’m not sure how we can stop them at the moment. They are quite the force, aren’t they?”

On Sunday, Plimmer could very well be watching a couple of Diamonds who might be able to help in that regard, with Hollie Armitage and Bess Heath both in contention for this winter’s Ashes series Down Under.

It promises to be a memorable day at Headingley. 

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