Lauren Winfield-Hill has said that many players within the Northern Diamonds squad were “unsettled” by the announcement that Yorkshire would not receive Tier One status in 2025.

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Speaking to the Wisden Women’s Cricket Weekly podcast, she discussed how the biggest issue for Diamonds players is the current uncertainty they face over the next two years. Most of the Diamonds players reside around the Leeds area, where the Diamonds are based. With Yorkshire not handed immediate Tier One status, Diamonds players will have to relocate in order to remain professional cricketers.

Winfield-Hill believes that overall, the decision to swap the regional hubs for counties is for the betterment of the game but the way it was leaked and the timing, two days before the season began, left players perturbed. “The overarching feeling is that it will drive the game forward and get the teams aligned with counties”, she said. “It [the change in structure] just makes it a little bit cleaner. I think it’s a good thing for sure and the reason for wanting to go down that avenue is a good one.

“It’s just unsettling: the nature in which we found out, via a leak. Funnily enough, I actually found out through Katherine Brunt, because she texted me: ‘Ah mate. I’m really gutted. Thinking about all the girls.’ I was at a yoga retreat with Phoebe Graham from Lancs. I was thinking: ‘What’s Brunty on about?’ because it was early [in the morning] when we found out. Then obviously our player group chat for Northern Diamonds was going off.”

The change in structure means that players, not just at the Diamonds, will be on the move.

“It’s sort of a free for all. There’re no rules to say that Warwickshire are going to sign all the Central Sparks players. It’s a bit of an open market for everybody.

“If you’re a director of cricket trying to build your team and build a legacy, you’re going to want to lock people in long term. How does that leave Yorkshire and Glamorgan, if people are on three- or four-year deals from the off?

“That’s the hard piece around Yorkshire and Glamorgan: what are they going to look like when they’re back in Tier One. Are they going to be strong, are they going to be able to compete, are there going to be enough good players left in the country, that aren’t signed on long-term deals to make up these two teams and make it competitive.

“So, it doesn’t really help players or the teams either. It makes it quite challenging for both.”

Another issue Winfield-Hill has with sudden revamp is the effect on players, specifically younger players, at the Diamonds.

“People were shocked and surprised. It’s a big life change. You look at some of the young players, like Katherine Fraser for example, she’s moved to Leeds Uni for cricket. She moved there because she wanted to pursue her cricket and then the landscape has changes.

“And the other thing that is more challenging for the youngsters is that they don’t have a lot of skin in the game yet. Your value for a team that you’ve been at for two or three years is quite high, versus what the rest of country might value you as. We see the day-to-day stuff that goes on behind the scenes, how people train, and that might not be coming into fruition yet in performance.

“If you haven’t got a lot of skin in the game and a lot of performances under your belt particularly, it’s like: ‘Will Durham want me? I haven’t punched out 500, 600-run seasons yet.’ That’s probably a bit of vulnerability, that they feel at the minute.”

Despite older players being more stable from a cricketing perspective, Winfield-Hill still has concerns with the possible relocation away from Headingley.

“You then have people on the other end of the spectrum, with people like me and Katie Levick, where we’ve been at Yorkshire for 15 years and you’ve always felt like you’d start and finish there.

“For me I’ve got a wife who lives here, who has a job here, my family live close by. Everyone has different parts that come into it; for me, I’m not necessarily concerned cricket-wise because I feel like I’ve probably done enough, particularly at that level, where you feel like you’d be valued at most teams, but then it’s the whole life piece.

“It’s how that looks life-wise for the girls at uni, or the girls who have got friends and family nearby, or partners. I think everyone’s unsettled in different ways.”