A DISAPPOINTING day on Saturday? Of course. But Thunder captain Ellie Threlkeld remains steadfast in her belief that the good times are coming for Lancashire Thunder.

Captain Threlkeld’s side were beaten by nine wickets against Northern Diamonds in their opening fixture of 2024, bowled out for 165 batting first in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy clash at the Seat Unique Riverside in Durham.

Wicketkeeper-batter Threlkeld, who is from Rainford, is just one Thunder star who has spoken about increased confidence in the squad of this summer. 

The region have finished seventh in each of the last three 50-over campaigns, but they reached their first ever Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 Finals Day last summer and have been given a fresh perspective by new coach Chris Read.

"I'm really confident about us this year,” said Threlkeld ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Sunrisers at Emirates Old Trafford, starting at 10.30am. 

“We've shown some brilliant signs of some great cricket in pre-season. Although Saturday was a really poor day at the office for us, every team goes through that and it happens.

"It's now about how we bounce back and get stuck into training and come back fighting on Wednesday. 

"The beauty of playing loads of cricket is that it's a quick turnaround, and that's good for the group. Hopefully we can have a few days of good training and we go again.”

Thunder will face an improving Sunrisers team, who won their opener by eight wickets away at Western Storm on Saturday having bowled the hosts out for 114 in Cardiff.

From the start of regional cricket in 2020, Sunrisers went three seasons without winning a 50-over game. In fact, they had only won one game in any format before the start of last summer. 

But they won the opening game of last summer, and won six matches last summer. 

Even more eye-catching than that, including Saturday, the Sunrisers are on a five-match winning streak in this competition dating back to the start of last September.

"In this competition, every team is a strong team,” continued Threlkeld. 

"That means everyone can beat everyone, which is exciting.

“I'm excited to be back playing at home at Emirates Old Trafford, so I'm really looking forward to it.”

Threlkeld says Read’s arrival at Emirates Old Trafford as coach has brought about a new style of play - and it is one that has taken away the fear of failure.

“Chris has been a breath of fresh air for everyone,” she said. “He’s brought a lot of energy and positivity to the group. The way he wants us to go about our cricket is a bit different.

“It’s quite attacking, trying to win the boundary count in games and always trying to take the positive option. 

“It’s something he’s tried to get the team to buy into, and it seems to have removed a bit of fear of failure from the group as well, which I think is massive.

“We’ve talked about how we want to go about things and our processes.

“Ultimately, we might lose a few games whilst expecting to win. That’s a place we’ve never been in before.

“To be able to do that shows how much the squad’s come on - not just from a mindset point of view, but from a skills point of view as well.”

This summer will mark the end of the regional era of women’s cricket in England, with it moving into a tiered structure from next summer.

Lancashire were last week confirmed as a Tier One host county.

So while things are exciting moving forwards and many things will stay the same at Emirates Old Trafford, this summer does bring to an end five years of that aforementioned regional era.

And Threlkeld wants to go out in style. 

“The foundations which have been put in place over the last four years, we have a lot to thank Paul Shaw (former coach) for,” she added. “He will be remembered for helping to lay the foundations, developing players and a system which is hopefully going to last for a long time. 

“Saying that, the girls are really buzzing that Ready’s come in, and now we’re at the performance end and we want to go and win games of cricket.

“As much as we’ve not been very successful in the last few years, there’s no reason why we can’t go and be successful this year.

“I’ve spoken before about Lancashire paving the way with the support that we’re getting. 

“Obviously we can’t do that without the commercial partners such as Hilton, Sportsbreaks. They’ve been amazing, giving us opportunities for pre-season tours, funding extra professional contracts, extra sports science staff. 

“Other teams are probably looking at us thinking, ‘They’ve got absolutely everything’. And we have. We’ve got everything in place. Ultimately, at some point that has to transfer into results.

“That’s the pressure we’re under as professional athletes. We’ve got to relish that. 

“We have got everything. We’ve been so well prepared. We’ve had a pre-season tour, loads of middle practice at Emirates Old Trafford, we’ve been away with the boys and done everything possible. 

“The squad’s in a good place, we’ve signed players, we’ve had five girls who’ve just been away with England. 

“Why can’t we go and win silverware? That’s the way we have to look at it.”

Captained by Grace Scrivens, Sunrisers have signed Australian seamer Nicola Hancock on a six-game overseas stint.