Northern Diamonds produced a clinical performance with bat and ball to defeat Western Storm by seven wickets in their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Emirates Riverside.
The Diamonds were on point with the ball as Linsey Smith produced career-best List A figures of five for 34 to dismiss the Storm for 183. Captain Sophie Luff top scored for the visitors with a fine innings of 65, but their total was always going to be tough to defend.
Hollie Armitage led from the front in the Diamonds chase. The skipper blasted a half-century from 53 balls, and was unbeaten at the end on 68 alongside Bess Heath to guide their side over the line with ease, earning their fourth victory in five games in the competition.
After being inserted the Storm made a solid start through Fi Morris, who scored a brisk 30. However, Langston was on point first to dismiss Georgia Hennessy for five before notching a second wicket in her first seven-over burst to remove Morris.
The visitors were able to settle into a rhythm with captain Sophie Luff and Alex Griffiths at the crease. The two players put fifty in just 46 balls to put the Diamonds under pressure, and the hundred was brought up at the end of the 18th over. Jenny Gunn was forced to leave the field after pulling up before bowling her second over, and was replaced by Levick.
Smith earned her reward for a fine spell to remove Griffiths for 36, breaking a partnership of 65 for the third wicket. The Storm collapsed after Griffiths’ dismissal, falling from 109 for two to 112 for six in the space of three overs. Storm skipper Luff was defiant amid the clatter of wickets, scoring a half-century from 57 deliveries.
She shared a stand of 61 with debutant Chloe Skelton for the seventh wicket to propel the visitors towards a score over 170, but Smith returned from the Finchale End to surge through the tail. She claimed career-best figures of 5-34 to bowl out the Storm for 183, removing Luff for 65 with the final wicket of the innings.
The Diamonds enjoyed a rapid start to their chase aided by wayward bowling from the visitors. Lauren Winfield-Hill and Armitage were able to calmly see off the early overs to settle their team into the innings.
Hennessy prised out Winfield-Hill with a delivery that kept low for 16. However, the home side were not deterred as the skipper Armitage and Sterre Kalis took the game away from the Storm to whittle down the total with ease. Kalis and Leah Dobson were both dismissed by Stephanie Hutchins, but it was too little too late for the visitors.
Armitage completed a deserved half-century to allow the hosts to close in on victory. The Diamonds skipper and Heath produced an unbeaten stand of 54 to deliver the win, with Armitage dispatching the winning runs with a boundary through the leg-side.
Western Storm skipper Sophie Luff said: “They’re a very good outfit and we knew it was going to be tough. We were a weakened side on paper, but it was a good opportunity for the youngsters to show what they could do, so it was not all doom and gloom from our point of view. The collapses have been the story of our season, our middle order have to find a way to step up and find a way to grind it out. We need to take some responsibility and ownership in our final two games and hopefully turn out batting performances around.
“It’s always nice to score some runs on a personal level albeit I was not at my fluent best. I enjoy playing up here, we’ve played up here twice over the last 12 days and I’ve had a couple of fifties. We didn’t set the tone with the ball and that was disappointing. We clawed it back a little bit with a couple of wickets, but we need to start better and we know that. Hopefully we can turn it around in the next couple of games.”