Lauren Winfield-Hill smashed a 51 ball 96 to kick-start the Northern Diamonds’ Charlotte Edwards Cup campaign as the Diamonds won by 39 runs.Hollie Armitage won the toss at a sunbathed Haslegrave Ground, Loughborough and chose to bat on a flat surface that encouraged bold shot selection and offered little for the bowler.
Abi Glen making her debut for Northern Diamonds opened the batting with Winfield-Hill, and the pair got the visitors off to the perfect start. Glen was offered width outside off stump and took full advantage, timing well behind point. The couple added 56 for the opening wicket from just 32 balls.
Winfield-Hill was the star of the show. Having lost her England place during the World Cup, it was imperative that she hit the ground running. Winfield-Hill did that even when Teresa Graves caught Glen for 25 from Kirstie Gordon’s second delivery of the match.
Armitage joined Winfield-Hill and enjoyed a partnership of 89. Both were dropped; it proved costly as the over the opener was dropped; she blitzed Kathryn Bryce for three consecutive sixes that took her to 95, not out, with plenty of time to reach her hundred. Bryce is a canny operator and the Lightning captain induced a spiralling catch for Bethan Ellis to pouch a difficult chance.
Armitage kept going at the other end as wickets fell in a search to take the Diamonds into a lead that Lightning would never catch. Diamonds finished with 177 for five from their allotted overs.
Lightning reached 138 for seven, which would usually have been a winning score on the Loughborough ground.
Marie Kelly and Tammy Beaumont strode out with confidence. Kelly’s pre-season form has been extraordinary, and Beaumont is no stranger to scoring quick runs. An opening partnership of 79 from 63 balls had set up the home side to score ten an over from their remaining 60 balls. It would require the openers to bat deep and put the pressure back on the Diamonds’ bowlers.
It didn’t go to plan as Kelly, trying to put Beth Langston off her line and length, walked down to the former England international who bowled the Lightning opener for 46.
Beaumont would be tasked with scoring the majority of runs not for the first time in her career, and she looked to be enjoying the task dispatching four fours in the space of two overs from Leigh Kasperek and Beth Langston.
Any hopes of a Lightning victory faded when Emma Marlow, another new player for Diamonds, bowled the England international for 59.
The openers were the only Lightning players to score double figures, and Linsey Smith nearly snuck a hat-trick from the last over, only for the final ball to miss everything and everyone.