Cricket: Northern Diamonds aces fly out for U19 World Cup in South Africa

For Lizzie Scott, 2022 – a year which bubbled to a crescendo – was amazing. But 2023 has all the makings of being even better for the Hexham seamer.
Northern Diamonds’ Lizzie Scott bowls against the Southern Vipers in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy finalNorthern Diamonds’ Lizzie Scott bowls against the Southern Vipers in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final
Northern Diamonds’ Lizzie Scott bowls against the Southern Vipers in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final

In September, Scott was part of the Northern Diamonds’ team who won beat Southern Vipers at Lord’s to win their first Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title. In defence of 216, she took the new ball and set the tone with 1-10 from five overs in only her third senior appearance.

The month started with her turning 18 before debuting in a group stage win over Western Storm at Taunton. She claimed one wicket, as she did in each of her three outings.

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Around the same time, she was selected for the England squad to play in the inaugural women’s Under 19s T20 World Cup in South Africa alongside regional colleague Emma Marlow, the off-spinner from Harrogate.

The two Diamonds’ Academy graduates fly out today ahead of the competition running from January 14-29.

“If you’d told me this time last year that I would be going to South Africa, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Scott, who also plays cricket for Northumberland.

“I’m really looking forward to it. They’re a great group of girls, and we have a fantastic chance.

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“To be part of the first Under 19s tournament is a bit of history. It’s insane.”

Insane is also how Scott describes the end of the 2022 summer.

“Getting to play in that final at Lord’s was one of the best moments of my life,” she reflected. “It sounds cricket badgery, but it genuinely was. I couldn’t believe it.

“I only got drafted into the team in the last few weeks of the season due to injury, and it was a massive shock. In September alone, I ticked off a whole load of things on my cricket bucket list.

“It was a whirlwind and took over my life.”

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Scott was one of four players to graduate through the Academy to represent the Diamonds in senior cricket last season; Marlow, Phoebe Turner and Jess Woolston being the others. They all settled quickly and looked right at home.

“The other players in the team made it really easy for us to settle quickly,” said Scott.

“For one of my first games, it was a long bus journey away. It was the game at Beckenham that got cancelled (due to the Queen’s passing) and then onto Taunton.

“It was a great chance for everyone to spend some time with each other, get to know the girls who hadn’t been around for ages. It helped massively.”

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As a seamer in a spin-heavy bowling group with the Diamonds, Scott is somewhat of an outlier.

But, as someone who swings the ball and bowls with good pace, she is a point of difference for captain Hollie Armitage.

“Beyond the World Cup, I’d love to play a few more games for the Diamonds and open the bowling. That would be amazing,” she said. “I’d also like to think I could bat a bit higher if needed. I’ve batted four and five for the Academy.”

First things first, though, as Scott now tackles a fortnight-long tournament involving 16 teams.

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Big guns Australia and India – the latter are captained by Shafali Verma – are there, as are the likes of Ireland, Scotland and the USA.

The teams are split into four groups, with England in Group B alongside Pakistan, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. England’s opener is against Zimbabwe at Potchefstroom on January 15.

The top three in each group then qualify for two Super Six groups, from which the top two advance to the semi-finals.

“I rate us very highly as a squad,” added Scott, of England’s chances.

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“We were training together for five or six weeks, each weekend, before Christmas, and I’m not sure how many other squads would have had that luxury of being able to bond like that.

“I think Australia and India will be our biggest rivals, but I’m very confident. We can definitely go out there and win it.”

This tournament will be watched by plenty of interested onlookers as the next generation of talent go toe to toe, not least Diamonds’ head coach Dani Hazell.

Hazell was a World Cup winner with England’s senior side as a player, and she said: “It’s a great opportunity for our girls, massive.

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“To get into is great for them, and now it’s about expressing themselves and showing off their skills. Equally, they have to soak up everything that comes with it and enjoy the experience.

“You don’t want to put any pressure on yourself or anything like that.

“Marlow likes to get in the battle and the fight of the competition, while Lizzie plays with a smile on her face and loves what she does.

“They both have to stick to what they do best and not go away from that.

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“For Lizzie, would her opportunity have come with us had there not been injury and unavailability at the end of last season? I don’t know. Did it come? Yes. Did she take it? Absolutely.

“Hopefully that’s helped her be recognised for the 19s.

“She’s unique. She has a bit of extra pace, she keeps the ball coming at you.

“She’s been a good find for us, and hopefully we can keep developing her over the next few years and see where she can get to,” she added.