Lauren Winfield-Hill hoping to cap off sensational summer with another Lord’s final success
Lauren Winfield-Hill is hoping to cap off a sensational summer with another Lord’s final success this weekend.
When Winfield-Hill walks out with the Northern Diamonds in Sunday’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final against Southern Vipers, she could achieve her second showpiece triumph of the month at the Home of Cricket.
The England fringe opener won the Hundred earlier this month with the Oval Invincibles.
And Lord’s success doesn’t stop there for the in-form 32-year-old.
Rewind to 2017, and the York-born star was part of England’s team which won the one-day World Cup on home soil, beating India in the final.
While Sunday’s opponents Southern Vipers are bidding for their third straight RHF Trophy success, having beaten the Diamonds in each of the previous two finals, Winfield-Hill is going for her own personal Lord’s ‘Threepeat’.
If any of the Diamonds players want advice on what it takes to win at the grand old venue, they know exactly who to ask.
“Simplify it, it’s bat versus ball,” would be Winfield-Hill’s advice.
“Don’t let the occasion get the better of you and just immerse yourself in the game and the job that’s required.”
But how easy is that to do when, in essence, it isn’t just any other game?
“I think it’s easy once you get out there,” continued the wicketkeeper-batter, who has also just signed on for next month’s Big Bash in Australia with Melbourne Stars.
“The challenge is the night before, the day before, the long travel down, breakfast. But once you’re out there together as a group, it’s easy to do.
“We just need to do what we do every game and don’t get too far ahead in the game, just stay in the moment.
“We know we’re a good side who are up there amongst it.
“I believe we’re the best domestic team in the country. We just have to prove it by getting over that line and finding a way to win in a final.
“Whether we win or not, I still think the way we’ve played this year has been a massive shift from last. The girls have been awesome.
“If we do the same thing again at Lord’s, we will get over the line.”
Being at Lord’s competing for a trophy would have seemed a fanciful notion for Winfield-Hill back in April, before a ball had been bowled in the regional summer.
She had just returned home from a hectic winter of Ashes and World Cup cricket with England in Australia and New Zealand.
A number of low scores had seen her replaced in the team during the early stages of the latter competition, and the trip turned into somewhat of a nightmare.
After a summer which has seen her hit career best form, she reflected: “It’s all come on the back of a huge meltdown when I came back from the World Cup.
“I basically had a massive mental breakdown and couldn’t deal with life, cricket, anything.
“It all got too much in all the bubbles and stuff. I just hated cricket, I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t do social things.
“I’ve just had good support from family and friends and have worked with a sports psyche, Amanda Gatherer, who has been unreal. She’s helped me strip things back and simplify my mind.”
Winfield-Hill revealed that on the Diamonds’ website after their penultimate group game against Western Storm, in which she contributed 74 to a resounding win.
She followed that with a brilliant 125 not out in Saturday’s final group win over Vipers at Headingley, which qualified the unbeaten Diamonds for Lord’s with their sixth straight win added to a No Result.
In all cricket this summer, for the Diamonds, the Invincibles and England A, she’s hit 888 runs at average of 63.42.
“I don’t feel like I’ve played any better than this in my whole career,” she said.
If Lauren does taste success with the Diamonds on Sunday, it will come exactly a week after her wife Courtney won the women’s Rugby League grand final as captain of the Leeds Rhinos.
Australian Courtney, a former Big Bash cricketer with Brisbane Heat, is also the head of the Diamonds Academy, who could have three graduates in the final team in Emma Marlow, Lizzie Scott and Jess Woolston.
“Credit to Courtney for the work she’s done,” added Lauren.
“That’s the whole idea, that when they come up here they feel like they belong and that they believe their skills are strong enough to cope at the next level.
“They’ve fulfilled all of that and more.”