CAPTAIN Lauren Winfield believes the Yorkshire Diamonds squad will take inspiration from their male counterparts and play with an aggressive freedom in the upcoming Kia Super League.
Yorkshire are one of six host teams bidding to engrave their name in history in the internationally-flavoured competition, which is aimed at raising the standard and coverage of women’s cricket.
Former Yorkshire all-rounder Richard Pyrah will coach the professional side, which features England players Katherine Brunt, Danielle Hazell and Jenny Gunn. To boost his options with bat and ball Australians Alex Blackwell and Beth Mooney have touched down while pace bowler Shabnim Ishmail will fly in from South Africa ahead of Saturday’s first match.
Winfield, from York, said: “I believe we have got the side to win it. If we play to the potential which I know we are capable of, I’m sure we won’t be too far away.
“It’s a huge honour (to be captain). I’m a Yorkie through and through and have grown up wanting to represent Yorkshire and be part of something special.
“This club has a lot of history, and a lot of successful history. It’s great for me to be a part of that and lead an exciting group in an exciting tournament.”
The curtain will be raised at Headingley on Saturday with the visit of Loughborough Lightning.
Matches against Surrey Stars and Southern Vipers, both away, follow on August 4 and August 8 respectively before a Roses battle against Lancashire Thunder at Old Trafford on August 12.
The visit of Western Storm then rounds off the fixtures on Sunday, August 14.
Pyrah said: “It’s impossible to say who is going to be the strongest team with having six completely new teams, but my aim is that we are going out to win every game.”
Pyrah made 105 appearances for Yorkshire in T20s before retiring at the end of his benefit year in 2015.
The 33-year-old added: “I’ve got good experience playing T20 cricket and a good knowledge of how to play the game. I’m just looking forward to running the side and inputting the girls with whatever I want.”
Although Yorkshire’s record in the NatWest T20 Blast has been underwhelming in recent years, six wins in eight T20 matches have put the men on the edge of an improbable qualification for this year’s quarter-finals.
Winfield urged her troops to adopt the same aggressive approach that has worked wonders for Alex Lees’s side.
“I just want the girls to express themselves, trust their skills and play with freedom,” the 25-year-old added.
The competition is being trialled with the hope of attracting multi-million pound television contracts into the women’s game in the future, which has thrived in England since winning the World Cup and World Twenty20 in 2009 and the recent series win over Pakistan that saw the national side regularly plunder massive totals.
Brunt has seen the transformation first-hand and believes the attitude towards professionalism in the women’s game has been the main contributor.
The England fast bowler said: “This tournament has been a long time coming.
“It has been really difficult for all the England girls to have that transition between playing T20 cricket in England and then going abroad and expecting to play T20 in World Cups without much behind us.
“This just makes the opportunity for us to get all that T20 in us before we go to major tournaments. It’s a really good stepping stone. When I first came into the squad, teams were going at one an over. Batters were happy getting 50 off 100 balls. These days they are scoring hundreds off 50 balls.
“The game has come a hell of a long way. You have to be an elite all-rounder now to even get an opportunity.”