It is fitting that the week of International Women’s Day should coincide with one of the biggest announcements in the history of women’s cricket in Scotland. The news that Cricket Scotland has been successful in its bid to host the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifier this summer has been received with keen anticipation, as those involved at every level of the Scottish game look forward to an unprecedented opportunity to grow its profile still further.
For Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce, the prospect of playing a key tournament on home soil is particularly exciting. Having led the national side to its highest-ever position in the ICC world rankings, the twenty-one-year-old all-rounder is relishing the chance to show home crowds exactly what her team is made of.
“It’s brilliant to have the tournament here,” she said. “To have that home support will be so special for us because quite a lot of the time we are playing away from home so there aren’t that many opportunities for people to watch us close by. For younger girls in particular to have the chance to watch Scotland’s women play in Scotland will be fantastic.
“Being the host nation gives us a huge opportunity in terms of getting kids involved in cricket,” she went on. “It is so important for youngsters to experience the tournament themselves, to be there and feel a part of it rather than just hearing about it, seeing pictures on Twitter or whatever. Actually getting to meet the players as well as watch them play will be very exciting for them too. It’s a great chance for us to showcase Scottish women’s cricket in a really positive way.”
The news has come at a particularly exciting time for the women’s game as a whole. Fuelled by the star-studded success of events such as the Women’s Big Bash and Kia Super League the global profile of the game continues to rise, and with the ICC’s re-branding of its premier competitions as the ‘Men’s’ and ‘Women’s’ World Cups just one of the small but significant changes that have been made in how women’s cricket is presented, the future is looking ever-brighter.
“There has been a big change in the recognition of women’s cricket over the last few years,” said Kathryn, “especially since the last Women’s World Cup in England . The Final at Lord’s was incredible, and that so many people got to watch it and feel the atmosphere was hugely important.
“Women’s cricket is now accepted across the world as something which is just as exciting as the men’s game. More and more people are seeing that it is just as good to watch and can be loved just as much.”
The coming tournament will allow Scottish supporters the chance to experience that excitement at first hand as the hosts bid to reach the final stages of a major competition for the first time in their history. Scotland’s world ranking of eleventh was reflected in their overall placing in the last edition of the Women’s T20 World Cup, and although the disappointment at missing out on the finals by just one place was palpable, the positives that could be taken from their performance were considerable. Whatever may happen over the coming summer, the home crowd will be watching a team that has growing momentum behind it.
“It has been exciting to see so many new faces come through,” said Kathryn. “While that means there will be a little less experience in the side for a while, the more we play the more we will see the benefits. Now that we have the security of automatic qualification to the global competition, the European Qualifier [against the Netherlands and Germany in La Manga] gives us a great opportunity. We want to make a big statement and win the Europeans but getting the younger ones a really good experience of international cricket will be the most important thing. We want them ready for a big summer on what will be a big stage in Scotland.”
And after recording their best-ever finish last time around, could Scotland go one better this time?
“It would be an incredible achievement,” smiled Kathryn, “and hosting the Qualifier gives us a big opportunity that we have to do our utmost to take.
“The amount of support that we’ve had when we’ve been away has been tremendous – it’s definitely been amongst the loudest wherever we’ve gone around the world – so having everyone in Scotland will be fantastic. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience.”