Southern Vipers v Northern Diamonds – Ali Campbell targets knockout blow at Ageas Bowl

Ami Campbell feels like she has taken “hit after hit after hit” over the last few months – but now the Northern Diamonds batter has every chance of landing the knockout blow herself.

Northern Diamonds' Ami Campbell hits out against Thunder earlier this season. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com

Newcastle-born Campbell struggled for early-season form before spending the opening stages of the Hundred on the sidelines with the Northern Superchargers. Then, towards the back end of that competition, she contracted coronavirus.

On Sunday, the left-hander played her first game since July 10 and hit a season’s best 48 in a Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy win for the Diamonds against Thunder at Durham.

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It was a victory which put the Diamonds top of the table and set up a mouthwatering final group game today against second-placed Southern Vipers at the Ageas Bowl. The two sides are level on 23 points, separated by only net run-rate. Central Sparks are third on 22.

AIMING HIGH: Northern Diamonds' Ami Campbell Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Both Diamonds and Vipers know a bonus point win will qualify them directly for the final at Northampton next Saturday, while the strength of the Diamonds’ run-rate means a four-point win will likely do the trick even if Sparks win with a bonus point against Lightning.

A tie at the Ageas and a Sparks win would see them advance to the final and Diamonds and Vipers meet again on Wednesday in the semi-final eliminator.

If the Diamonds end up with a home tie in the eliminator for finishing second in the group, it would likely be at Scarborough.

Campbell, 30, said: “I was quite poorly (with Covid) and was a good five days in bed. I lost my smell and taste, got headaches.

“I had 10 days in isolation and another two weeks not playing. It was heartbreaking, especially when you’ve not a had a great start to the season.

“The Hundred knocked me massively confidence wise because I didn’t get selected. When I could have potentially got selected at the end, that’s when I got Covid. It was almost like hit after hit after hit.

“If I didn’t really want to do well with my cricket, I think that would have tipped me over the edge and I’d have cut the season short and taken a break.”

“But I’m desperate to do well and was willing to do anything to get back.

“I’m a big believer that things will fall into place at the right time. Fingers crossed, Sunday was the start of things turning for me.”