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Match Preview: Thunder v Northern Diamonds

Match Preview: Thunder v Northern Diamonds

Emma Lamb admits a likely opponent on Wednesday, the Northern Diamonds star Nat Sciver, is providing her with inspiration as she bids to progress herself as an all-round force.

Thunder v Northern Diamonds
Charlotte Edwards Cup, Group A
Sale Cricket Club
Wednesday May 18, 2022, 1.30pm

Lamb has returned to domestic action over the last month following a winter away with England at the Ashes and World Cup, when she was a team-mate of all-rounder Sciver’s.

The 24-year-old Prestonian played once against Australia and once in New Zealand and is targeting more exposure on the international scene.

But to do that, she feels she has to develop her off-spin bowling to sit alongside her batting, which has excelled, especially last season with three regional hundreds for Thunder in competitive and friendly cricket.

In fact, Lamb has pointed to a personal performance in last season’s Charlotte Edwards Cup against the Diamonds at Headingley as the blueprint for her development.

In a 12-run Thunder victory last June, Lamb hit 58 at the top of the order, claimed 4-13 with her off-spinners, took a catch and also affected a run out.

Something similar at Sale Cricket Club on Wednesday - a game for which Sciver is available - would be very welcome for both her and, more importantly, Thunder after Saturday’s opening day CE Cup loss at Southern Vipers.

“I was pretty happy with how I performed last year, but I’m pretty harsh on myself and would say that I could have done even better,” said the 2021 Thunder player of the year.

“I want to make myself into more of an all-rounder rather than a batter who bowls a bit.

“Ideally, I want to be an all-rounder like Nat Sciver is, frontline with both disciplines. That’s something I can keep striving for. It adds something else to my game that people can look at and maybe pick me for.

“There was a lot of talent and experience out in Australia and at the World Cup, so I was able to pick their brains and learn from them.

“Nat was great with me. She’s very hard-working and knows the game inside out. I’d say I’m still getting to know the game. To be around someone like her, who has played in loads of World Cups, Ashes and other tournaments, was amazing.

“It’ll be good fun to play against her. It’s a big game, and if we can get a win on the board early it will give us loads of confidence.”

On last year’s game against the Diamonds over the other side of the Pennines, she reflected: “When I look back at my best games, that is definitely up there. My all-round performance, which is what I’m striving for, that’s as good as it gets.

“You have those days where everything goes your way, and that was one of them.”

Despite Saturday’s defeat at Hove, Thunder hopes remain high ahead of a clash with the Diamonds.

They were last year’s beaten finalists in this competition and won Saturday’s opener against Lightning at Loughborough by 39 runs on the back of a 96 from Lauren Winfield-Hill.

Sciver didn’t play after a period of rest, but she is set to begin her home summer in this second round fixture.

“Everyone’s been working ridiculously hard over the winter. Me going away and coming back, I’ve seen so much improvement,” said Lamb.

“I think we did pretty well last year, but we could have done even better. I’m hoping we win something this year. I’ve got big expectations.”

Lamb, who hit 23 at the top of the order and claimed 1-6 from two overs on Saturday, is riding the crest of a wave at present.

She only initially went out to Australia at the start of the year as part of an England A squad who were shadowing the seniors, yet she was elevated to play an Ashes ODI in Melbourne before crossing the Tasman to play in the World Cup.

When she returned home, she helped Lancashire’s women won the County T20 competition by taking 5-5 in the final against Yorkshire at Northern last Sunday.

“I was absolutely privileged to be out there, and it was amazing,” she added, of her winter experience.

“All I wanted to do was do my best, play well and make a bit of a mark, which I think I did. I’m happy with that.

“The feedback I had from the first three weeks with the A squad was that I applied myself well with the bat both opening and in the middle order. I think that helped me get into the World Cup squad.

“That was a big surprise. When I got the email, I was looking at the side for the reserves, hoping that I might get a spot in the reserves. I didn’t think I’d get one in the actual squad.

“Initially I thought, ‘I’ve not been picked, what’s going on?’ When I saw I was picked in the main squad, I was very shocked.”

Player to watch:

Thunder new signing Phoebe Graham plays against the side who she was contracted to for last season.

The seamer has headed over to the right side of the Pennines for the next two years and will add experience to the coach Paul Shaw’s attack.

Graham had a low key start to her Thunder career with 0-15 from one over at Hove on Saturday, though she was Lancashire’s joint leading wicket-taker in the early season County T20 Cup with 13 alongside left-arm spinner Alex Hartley.

Previous meeting:

The two sides last met at Durham’s Riverside ground last September in the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, a game which the Diamonds won by 105 runs.

Half-centuries for Sterre Kalis (57), Bess Heath (78 not out) and Beth Langston (58 not out) led the hosts to a commanding 294-6, including two wickets for Alex Hartley.

In response, the Thunder lost wickets too regularly to finish on 189-8, including 67 for Georgie Boyce at the top of the order and 42 for Laura Marshall in the middle. Leg-spinner Katie Levick claimed four wickets for the hosts.

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