Northern Diamonds 281 for 3 (Winfield-Hill 83, Dobson 68*) beat Western Storm 250 for 7 (Luff 87, Wraith 61, Wilson 57) by 31 runs
The pick of the Storm bowlers, Mollie Robbins, took 2 for 41 and ran out Kalis, but she lacked adequate support as Diamonds’ top and middle order called the shots on a good batting track.
Yet bottom-of-the-table Storm were always chasing the game and they eventually came up short on 250 for 7 in the face of probing leg spin from Armitage and Katie Levick, who claimed three wickets between them to build crucial pressure during the middle overs.
Diamonds came into this contest having won their three previous matches against Storm in the 50-over competition and they batted with the authority that comes only from supreme confidence after being inserted beneath leaden skies. Once Winfield-Hill and Kalis had safely negotiated early movement off a drying pitch and seen off Robbins, northern dominance went largely unchecked.
Matching one another blow for blow, the openers staged a profitable stand of 101 in 17.3 overs to set the tone, taking full advantage of a Storm seam attack weakened by the absence of England call-ups Lauren Filer and Dani Gibson. When the home side did finally manage to effect a breakthrough, it came as a surprise, Kalis being run out by Robbins’ startling direct hit from square leg and departing for a 47-ball 45, a sturdy innings adorned by six fours.
Unperturbed by the loss of her partner, the fluent Winfield-Hill went to 50 via 65 balls before settling into a supporting role alongside the hard-hitting Armitage. In bullish mood following an unbeaten hundred against Southern Vipers last time out, Diamonds’ in-form skipper carried on where she left off, striking the ball cleanly as she called the shots in a progressive second-wicket alliance of 76 in 12.2 overs.
Intent upon forcing her way into the England squad for the winter tour of New Zealand, Armitage hoisted Chloe Skelton’s off spin over long-on for six and struck five further boundaries as she marched to 45 from 48 balls. A half century appeared hers for the taking when she unaccountably drove the returning Robbins to deep mid-wicket in the 30th over.
Winfield-Hill had scarcely put a foot wrong in compiling 83 and looked set to reach three figures, only to then drive Robbins to cover point, having faced 91 balls and struck 10 fours. Diamonds were 188 for 3, with Storm sensing an opportunity to rein them in.
But Dobson quickly squashed any notion of a fightback, flailing a tiring attack to all parts in an aggressive cameo that carried the visitors out of sight. Striking the ball with impressive ferocity, the 22-year-old Scarborough-born batter plundered 14 off one Gemma Lane over and hoisted Niamh Holland’s first delivery over square leg for a huge six on her way to a 44-ball half century.
It was altogether too much for the fielding side, Storm subsiding under intense pressure as Dobson and Emma Marlow staged an unbroken partnership of 93 in 9.5 overs for the fourth wicket. Taking full advantage of the platform provided for her by the top three, Dobson finished on 68 not out from 50 balls, with a six and 9 fours, while Marlow contributed an unbeaten 23 at slightly better than a run-a-ball as Diamonds ran up an imposing total.
If the home side were to challenge that score, they needed a good start, In the event, openers Alex Griffiths and Emma Corney departed inside five overs as Lizzie Scott and Sophia Turner made early inroads.
Up against it from the outset, the experienced pair of Luff and Wilson demonstrated cool heads in a crisis and admirable resolve to haul their team back into contention in a restorative alliance of 107 the third wicket. Adept at punishing the poor ball, these two found the boundary rope often enough to keep the required rate below eight, in the process raising three figures in 20 overs and asking questions of the bowlers.
Wilson was first to 50, the former World Cup winner reaching that landmark from 49 balls, while Luff required 24 deliveries more to bring up her half-century, as the stand passed 100. Diamonds needed a breakthrough and legspinner Armitage provided it in the 24th over, inducing Wilson to top-edge a catch to point and depart for 57 with the score on 124. With 158 runs required at 8.54 an over, a tall order became still more daunting when Holland succumbed to Levick’s leg breaks.
Refusing to throw in the towel, Wraith joined Luff in a defiant partnership of 69 for the fifth wicket to keep the contest alive. But Storm’s last realistic chance disappeared with Luff, who was stumped off the bowling of Levick with a notional 78 still needed from 39 balls.