Northern Diamonds v Sunrisers: Sterre Kalis only has eyes for Rachel Heyhoe-Flint Trophy semi-finals - not Euro 2024

GOOD FORM: Northern Diamonds' Sterre Kalis - in action against Lancashire Thunder - has impressed so far this season in the 50-over format. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comGOOD FORM: Northern Diamonds' Sterre Kalis - in action against Lancashire Thunder - has impressed so far this season in the 50-over format. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
GOOD FORM: Northern Diamonds' Sterre Kalis - in action against Lancashire Thunder - has impressed so far this season in the 50-over format. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
LAST WEEK at Headingley, Sterre Kalis vice-captained the Netherlands in a 50-over friendly against her Northern Diamonds team-mates. She was expecting some playful on-field banter, which never really arrived. It may just come this Wednesday instead.

Not on the field, but off it, because after the Diamonds play Sunrisers in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at York (10.30am), it will be all eyes on Dortmund for the big Euro2024 football semi-final between the Dutch and England.

Cricket first, though, and the Diamonds head to Clifton Park in buoyant mood.

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They are on a four-game winning streak in 50-over cricket, including two in the last week – against Central Sparks and Western Storm, the latter at Cheltenham on Sunday when they won a rain-reduced game by six wickets on the back of an unbeaten century from Hollie Armitage.

TEAMWORK: Northern Diamonds' duo Sterre Kalis (left) and Hollie Armitage. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comTEAMWORK: Northern Diamonds' duo Sterre Kalis (left) and Hollie Armitage. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
TEAMWORK: Northern Diamonds' duo Sterre Kalis (left) and Hollie Armitage. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

It is form which has put them in a great position to qualify for September’s semi-finals. With six games left and 30 points to play for, they are joint-second in the table on 25 points with Sunrisers, with six wins from eight and have a 12-point cushion to fifth-placed Blaze. The top four qualify for the semis.

It would be difficult to see how the winner of Wednesday’s clash at York doesn’t qualify.

“There’s this game and then Sunday (Blaze), and we obviously want to finish on a high and be in a good position before we have a break for the Hundred,” said batter Kalis.

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“We’ve had a couple of good wins recently, so we’re obviously feeling very confident going into this next game. We’re aiming to be in that top four, and we’re doing a good job.

POSITIVE START: Northern Diamonds' Sterre Kalis. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comPOSITIVE START: Northern Diamonds' Sterre Kalis. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
POSITIVE START: Northern Diamonds' Sterre Kalis. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“We’ve got a good platform, and the momentum is with us. We’re looking forward to this one, and hopefully we can get over the line.”

Kalis, 24, has returned a trio of important contributions in this season’s RHFT. She has played only five of the eight fixtures so far because of international duty, posting scores of 28, 52 and 34 - all in victories.

“I feel like I’ve played well,” she assessed. “But I’m really focusing on getting into the big scores and contribute even more to this team - batting for longer, making smarter decisions and reading the game even better.”

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Her captain has certainly been impressed. Armitage said: “Sterre, over the last month, has been in good touch and contributed some good runs for us. Long may that continue.”

Whereas Diamonds head into this fixture with six wins from eight and 25 points, Sunrisers have matched that haul but with five wins from eight. They sit second courtesy of a marginally superior net run-rate.

Their latest clash, against Central Sparks at Radlett on Sunday, was washed out following only 6.3 overs of play.

So, onto the England versus Netherlands rivalry which was given a soft launch at Headingley in last Tuesday’s 50-over friendly and will ramp up on Wednesday when the two great nations meet in a different sport.

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“It was really good to play against the team you always play with,” said Kalis, of the 189-run Diamonds win over the Dutch.

“We didn’t get the result we hoped for. But, for the Holland girls, we don’t play that many games, especially 50-over games. So to be able to play against a good opposition at a venue such as Headingley has been really good for us.

“It was quite funny because I thought there might have been more words and stuff from the Diamonds girls towards me on the pitch. But there wasn’t. It was all good fun.”

On the football, she said: “We watched the (quarter-final) games in the hotel at Cheltenham on Saturday night and joked around that we’re facing each other now. It’s quite exciting.

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“Hopefully Holland will go through. But it will be a really good game to watch.

“I think it will be 1-1, extra time and Holland will win on penalties.”

Armitage added her view: “I’m sure there will be a bit of banter this week about that match. We have a few Scots in our group, so I’m sure they’ll get involved as well.”

Confidence is clearly high within the Diamonds camp at present, and so it should be given their excellent form. But team spirit may just be tested, win or lose against the Sunrisers!

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