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Now or Never for Yorkshire Diamonds

Coach Danni Hazell during nets
Coach Danni Hazell during nets

It’s now or never for the Yorkshire Diamonds with regards to their Finals Day hopes in the Kia Super League.

The Diamonds have endured a disappointing start to their campaign, losing three of the first four games, including against Western Storm by nine wickets at York yesterday (THURSDAY).

Coach Danni Hazell takes her side to the Haslegrave ground on Loughborough’s University campus to take on Loughborough Lightning on Sunday (2.30pm) fully aware of how urgently wins are required. 

“Sunday’s a huge game,” said the former England international.

“It’s make or break for us now. We have to get out there and put our best foot forward.”

The clash with the Lightning is the first of five games in eight days for the Diamonds, who are chasing a top-three finish and are seven points adrift of champions Surrey Stars in third with four points for a win added to a possible bonus point.

“It’s simple from here,” said Hazell. 

“We have to get ourselves three plus wins from this next week of fixtures so that we have a chance of getting into that top three.

“But sometimes the simpler the equation is, the simpler the mind is. We have to turn up and make sure that we do a good job on Sunday.

“I’ve been in a similar situation to this as a player with Lancashire over the past couple of years, and you have to find a way from within.

“People need to stand up and take responsibility, especially for us with the ball.”

The Diamonds were beaten by nine wickets with 31 balls to spare as the Storm demolished a 152 target at York’s Clifton Park.

Hazell put a lot of it down to good play from Storm overseas openers Smriti Mandhana and Rachel Priest, who both hit half-centuries.

She was more concerned about their performance in last Sunday’s defeat to Loughborough at Emerald Headingley when they were poor with the ball and in the field defending a target of 122. 

“We didn’t play anywhere near as well as we can, and should have done, against Loughborough at Headingley, so we owe them one a bit,” she continued.

“We were perhaps a little bit shell shocked against the Storm by how they came at us. 

“But we can take a lot of positives from the game against Lancs on Tuesday. We played with composure at Liverpool, which was really good to see.

“We said after that game, ‘Winning’s a habit, let’s build on this’. Hopefully we can get started at Loughborough, which is huge as I said.

“Fingers crossed, that’s the start of good things to come for us.”

If the Diamonds are to make a late bid for a maiden Finals Day appearance at Hove on September 1, they will surely need Australia star Alyssa Healy to turn some encouraging starts into a big score or two.

Powerful wicketkeeper-bat Healy has posted scores of 31 and 30 at the top of the order and looks in good order at the crease, leading Hazell to warn: “If I was coming up against Alyssa soon, I’d be a bit worried. 

“She’s batting nicely, and there’s an explosion coming at some point.

“You don’t expect a score every innings, and she was a bit unlucky (against Storm), smacking it straight to square-leg. But she’s a class player.

“We do need our top order to stand up, but there has been plenty to be positive about there. It’s our bowling that’s letting us down.”

Loughborough have won two from five games and sit fourth in the table.

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