Lauren Winfield, England’s top-scorer in the T20Is of the recently concluded multi-format Ashes series, is the captain of Yorkshire Diamonds for the fourth season in a row of the Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL). She has the services of the ever-reliable and experienced campaigner, Katherine Brunt. Noteworthy names like Alyssa Healy, the Australian wicketkeeper, and Jemimah Rodrigues, the young Indian sensation, have also been added to Yorkshire’s roster, apart from Leigh Kasperek, the off-spinner from New Zealand, who came in as a last minute injury replacement for Chloe Tryon.
Among the England internationals, Yorkshire has the services of Katie George, the left-arm seamer, Linsey Smith, the left-arm spinner, Alice-Davidson Richards and Beth Langston, who was part of England’s World Cup winning squad in 2017. Davidson-Richards was in splendid touch through the women’s county season, also scoring some crucial runs against Australia A for England Academy, while Smith proved to be very effective through the 2018 Women's T20 World Cup and during England's tour of India in March.
Apart from these front-end changes, the Diamonds have changed their coach, too. Paul Grayson, who had been their head coach till the last season, has been replaced by Danielle Hazell, the former England international.
Yorkshire Diamonds have maintained a consistency that they won’t be proud of, finishing fifth in the last two seasons of WCSL. However, each season they have progressively improved on their number of wins per season: in 2016 they managed one, in 2017 there were two, and in 2018 the club won three matches.
With what appears to be one of their strongest teams so far, the club will be desperate to improve on those numbers in 2019.
Winfield has been a constant feature in the Diamonds’ squad for the past three seasons and has been the leader of the pack. Unsurprisingly, she is their leading run-scorer in the competition with 446 runs at a strike rate of 113.77. With the consistency that she displayed in the T20Is of the recently-concluded Ashes, she’d be expected to carry the burden of the batting unit and help better their previous finishes in the competition.
The Ashes winner, who scored the most runs in the ODI series, will make her first appearance in the WCSL. The explosive batter will be expected to carry her good form into the tournament, and consistently get Yorkshire off to a good start. After missing out on making impactful contributions through the T20I-leg of the Ashes series, Healy will be determined to set the record straight. The Australian wicketkeeper is one of the cleanest strikers of the ball, with the ability to find the boundary consistently. She has played 95 T20Is and boasts of a strike rate close to 122— a number that shoots up to 141.89 in the last 18 months.
Player to Watch:
Jemimah Rodrigues, the Indian teenage sensation, would be keenly followed in this edition of the WCSL. Making her maiden appearance in the competition, it will be interesting to see how Rodrigues fares in England— a country where she has not yet played.
In T20Is, Rodrigues has scored over 600 runs at a strike rate of 123.57 and an average of 30.40. A livewire in the field, she can offer her part-time off-spin services, too. Most recently, the right-hander was the leading run-getter in the Women’s T20 Challenge held in Jaipur in May.
Although the core of the Diamonds’ side has largely been constant, the new additions to the squad make them an interesting prospect. Healy’s presence at the top of the order as well as behind the stumps should ease the pressure of Winfield’s shoulders. With the import of Linsey Smith and the late addition of Leigh Kasperek, the slow-bowling seems to be covered, too. A glance at the team should suggest that their ‘consistency’ of the previous two seasons should be broken. Will that be the case?
Squad:Lauren Winfield (c), Katherine Brunt, Alice Davidson-Richards, Katie George, Linsey Smith, Hollie Armitage, Georgia Davis, Helen Fenby, Cordelia Griffith, Bess Heath, Beth Langston, Katie Levick, Alyssa Healy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Leigh Kasperek.
August 6: vs Surrey Stars at Headingley
August 11: vs Loughborough Lightning at Headingley
August 13: vs Lancashire Thunder at Aigburh
August 15: vs Western Storm at York Cricket Club
August 18: vs Loughborough Lightning at Haslegrave Ground
August 20: vs Surrey Stars at Woodbridge Road
August 21: vs Southern Vipers at The Rose Bowl
August 23: vs Lancashire Thunder at North Marine Road Ground
August 25: vs Southern Vipers at York Cricket Club
August 28: vs Western Storm at The Cooper Associates County Ground