Lucky that I didn’t have to face Katherine Brunt in the nets: Hollie Armitage

Hollie Armitage in action for England Academy. © Getty Images

Hollie Armitage and Lauren Winfield added 139 runs for the opening wicket for Northern Diamonds on the opening day of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Edgbaston. Armitage said that the duo’s equation over the years played a massive part in that.

“I love batting with Lauren,” Armitage told Women’s CricZone from Durham. “I’ve known her for ages and I’ve batted with her quite a lot.”

“To get that partnership in the first game after we’ve had a big build up to this – well, a big build-up in a short amount of time. It’s been fantastic that we’ve got the first win on the board and that sets us up for the rest of the tournament hopefully.”

The right-handed batter was quick to give credit to Katherine Brunt, who returned with five for 20 in her nine overs, that helped Diamonds bowl Central Sparks out for a mere 144.

“It set the tone with Katherine Brunt getting five wickets with the ball,” said Armitage, thanking her stars that she didn’t have to face her in the nets in the lead up to the game, because Brunt came from the England bio-secure bubble ahead of the match.

“Luckily I haven’t had to face her in the nets for a while. But yesterday she was on form and she really turned up for her first game. Who better to get five wickets for you! It’d much rather her be on your team than against. She was bowling some good wheels and just obviously nailing it really and then picked up five wickets which is great for her.”

While Winfield scored 72 off just 71 balls, Armitage chipped in with an unbeaten 54 off 73 balls and carried her bat in the 145-run chase. She credited her batting to the feel she gained during the training in the lead up to the competition.

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“We’ve had a lot of training leading up to this first game and I’ve just been thinking, ‘I’m just going to hit as many balls as possible and try and make myself feel in the best place I can be’ leading up to the competition.”

“It helps a lot batting with someone with experience like Lauren,” she said elaborating her equation with Winfield, “who can chat to you and talk you through things in the middle because it’s quite a lot of mental game. If I’m really frustrated, Lauren’s good at like keeping me level-headed and I think vice versa as well.”

“We seem to bat really well together. If you can get the best out of the person you’re batting with or the best out of your players then it’s always going to help them perform. For me it was just about being patient. 50 overs are a long time and luckily the bowlers did the job at the start which meant mine and Lauren’s job then was very easy really.”

While the international matches that are on or will be on are conducted in a bio-secure bubble without any spectators, there is no such ‘bubble’ for the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, though no spectators are allowed.

“We’ve just got to follow all the COVID rules with social distance and all that. We’re really not supposed to be going out of the hotel that much and things like that. But we are not in a bubble because quite a lot of these players have still got full-time jobs,” Armitage explained. “It’s hard; you couldn’t have said to them (that) we’re going be in a bubble for six weeks because then you do have to manage jobs at the same time. We’ve just got to be really safe with everything we do.”