30-year-old Kasperek previously featured for Yorkshire Diamonds during the 2019 season of the now defunct Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL). She will join the squad on May 1. Graves, an off-spinning allrounder, is another addition to the side having featured for Lightning during the last season.
“We’re really pleased to get Leigh’s services back to the region. She has obviously played for Yorkshire Diamonds through the Super League era, and I know Leigh very well myself through my days in Otago in New Zealand,” James Carr, Diamonds director of cricket, said. “She’s a great competitor and is a genuine allrounder. It’s a bit unfair where she’s batted at international level at times because she’s got lots of ability with the bat.”
"There’s a lot of spin in the women’s game, and in our squad. But we’re just adding some variety to that with both her and Yvonne signing as well. Katie Levick turns the ball away from the right-hander, as does Linsey Smith - albeit they’re different spinners. Hollie Armitage is a leg spinner as well."
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Kasperek, born in Edinburgh, has played 85 internationals across the limited over formats taking 140 wickets in the process. She has a career-best of 6 for 46 against Australia in ODIs. She was omitted from the New Zealand squad for the World Cup 2022.
“Leigh’s signing works really well for all parties. You have to remember we’ve had some players move on to other regions. Having her extra experience on the field to support Hollie (Armitage), Beth Langston and Jenny Gunn will be really good,” Carr added.
“She isn’t in the New Zealand side at the moment, so maybe she has a point to prove. But she’s a real fighter, and maybe we can give her that platform.”
23-year-old Yvonne represented Lightning in the Rachael Hayhoe Flint Trophy (RHF Trophy) from 2021 season and also has featured for them in the Charlotte Edwards Cup (CE Cup) last year. Her twin sister Teresa Graves will continue to play for Lightning during the upcoming season having made her debut for them during the inaugural RHF Trophy.
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“Yvonne wasn’t getting the opportunity she wanted at Lightning. She’s an off-spinner, but also a really good batter. Another allrounder, which is what we’re looking for. She’s a real athlete who has spent her winter in South Africa. She’s knitted into the squad nicely over the last few weeks and is coming into her own. Yvonne is looking for more game time, which we feel we can offer. We’re really looking forward to seeing how she goes,” Carr said.
Diamonds’ academy players Emma Marlow and Phoebe Turner have also been called up to the senior squad for the season. Scotland international Katherine Fraser and Hong Kong’s Mariko Hill also will train with the squad at Headingley.
“They (Fraser and Hill) have both trained with us over the winter, and we’ll look to continue to support their development in being around the squad. They both have other things on. Katherine is 17, she’s still at school. Her education is important to her and us. Mariko has a full-time job, but she can work anywhere in the world,” Carr concluded.