Phoebe Graham says learning from England’s Katherine Brunt, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Nat Sciver is priceless

Phoebe Graham blogs on Northern Diamonds’ opening exchanges in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, learning about cricket and buildings from Katherine Brunt and the special moment she secured her contract for The Hundred!

What a bank holiday weekend of blooming good cricket!

We had a dressing room full of knowledge, a Diamonds squad hungry to learn and our true Northern passion came through in the end. There were five-fers, sixes, tonnin’ up, fans and nail-biting finishes. It’s what women’s cricket is all about.

It was a spectacular occasion at Emerald Headingley on Saturday as we took on Central Sparks. As always, the staff welcomed us with open arms and Ceals (our operations manager) ensured the special little touches were just right to make the ground feel like home.

With England guns Katherine Brunt, Nat Sciver and Lauren Winfield-Hill back it meant I sadly had to swallow the tough pill of being 12th man. But, as Einstein says: ‘the only source of knowledge is experience’. Training and playing alongside world-class internationals isn’t a bad gig so it was time to soak up the knowledge.

  • Diamonds vs Sparks scorecard
  • Glenn’s late show denies Diamonds

It was a pleasure spending time with Brunty in the dug-out. Her knowledge is priceless and she has given me real confidence going into the season. I can take pride in taking her thoughts and putting them into my cricket armoury. Not only cricket, I now know about warranties on new builds and that I must get on the property market… pronto (cricketer by trade, property investor by night).

We got off to a flying start with Lauren Winfield-Hill smashing 110, hitting sixes into the stands for fun. We batted an absolute dream setting 279.

We had Sparks 194-7, it felt like we were on the way to our first win. The match showed, though, that it’s never over until it’s over. Sparks put on such a great battle and Sarah Glenn played a stunning innings hitting 71, holding her nerve in a nail-biting game of cricket. It’s never nice to lose on home turf, but big lessons to be learnt early on in the season.

So it was on to Leicester on Sunday for what turned out to be another brilliant game of cricket against Lightning. The wicket was green so we knew there would be a little bit of nibble and the oppo started exceptionally well.

Macca [Alex McDonald] and Jenny Gunn MBE held the fort and got us out of a tricky situation, showing what hard work looks like in the middle. We battled hard to post 151, a score that required an exceptional bowling performance.

This was when the masterclass began. There were unbelievable scenes from our seam attack with Sciver, Beth Langston and Brunt all bowling brilliantly. Langers took the last wicket to secure a six-run win; we learnt from the Saturday and showed our true Northern passion to come back in style.

  • Lightning vs Diamonds scorecard
  • Jones smashes 163 in Sparks success

It was a fabulous weekend in the sun with the Diamonds and we showed that we are back and ready to compete. It’s given us the hunger to finish games and play hard until the end. I’m raring to get back on the pitch with the girls and will look forward to taking my opportunity when it comes.

Having our international players in the camp put into perspective the talent we have, the inspiration they offer and the laughs I’ll be having over the summer – not only with the Northern Diamonds but with the Northern Superchargers.

Securing my contract for The Hundred was a special moment and if these are the types of spectaculars we are putting on in regional cricket, I can’t wait to see what the new competition brings.

It’s a big start for women’s cricket and this is just the beginning.

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