Northern Diamonds get Final chance to impress at Thunder

Coach Dani Hazell is relishing the opportunity her Northern Diamonds side have in their blockbuster Charlotte Edwards Cup clash with cross-Pennine rivals Thunder today.

Lauren Winfield-Hill could return to feature for Northern Diamonds today. Picture: Allan McKenzie/

Diamonds know they realistically have to win their final round Group Two fixture at Chester Boughton Hall (2.30pm) to have any chance of reaching next Sunday’s Finals Day at the Ageas Bowl.

The Diamonds missed the chance to seal qualification when beaten by Western Storm at Durham yesterday, losing top spot in the process. But chipper Hazell is refusing to look back in anger.

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A victory over Storm would have all but sealed their passage through to the Southampton showpiece occasion. Unfortunately, they lost by four wickets defending a 111 target.

It means the fate of the Diamonds is out of their hands heading into a Thunder clash which could see rested England star Lauren Winfield-Hill return to action.

The Diamonds realistically have to win and hope for a favour from elsewhere, though a tie could yet be enough. That is something the Thunder did at Sunrisers on Saturday.

“Yes we want to win games of cricket and get to Finals Day, but as long as we’re moving forwards – and I think we are – then there are plenty of positives to take,” said the former England World Cup-winning spinner.

“We just have to learn from this and go into the next one and do our job. A lot of this is about learning.

“We’ve just played in the Hundred, which has gone up another level.

“I’d like to have been top going into Monday, of course I would. But we are where we are. We have to fight, as we normally do, and let the rest take care of itself.

“We’re in a position where we can still win the T20 stuff and the 50-overs (Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy) as well. If you’d have said that to me at the beginning of the year, I would have taken it.

“We’ll pop down to Chester and see what we can do. It’s exciting.”

Three places are on offer at Finals Day.

The top team in each of the two groups qualifies, as does the best second-placed finisher.

The best group winner advances directly to the late afternoon final, with the others playing off in the semi-final at midday.

The Diamonds will almost certainly be without injured seamer Beth Langston.