Blog - Bryce Down Under at DLCA
Scotland's Kathryn Bryce has been spending the winter at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide in preperation for the Wildcats season ahead.
So I tipped all of my cricket clothes into a bag along with hundreds of other things that you think you are going to need when going away for 3 months until Mum came and rearranged the whole thing and removed about half of my stuff with the classic line, “do you really need this?”.
It was a familiar start to the journey with the drive to Glasgow and the flight to Dubai having done the exact same just weeks before on the way to Thailand with all the same films still there and not many left to watch.
24 hours later when I arrived in the airport in Adelaide I was met by a friend of Dad’s from 30 years ago. She looked after me very well for a few days before I started the academy. The day after I arrived I was shown around the city, finding my way around a bit more and got to see the fantastically refurbished Adelaide Oval, and visited the Don Bradman museum. I was lucky enough to have arrived in Adelaide before New Year so saw the amazing fireworks display from the Adelaide Oval watching from the top of Mount Lofty with a view looking over the whole city.
It was now time to get to work and start at the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy - and I didn’t have much of an idea what I was getting in for. Training was 5 times a week every week for 10 weeks. Net session 4 times a week, gym sessions twice a week, conditions sessions twice a week and circuits on Friday. Saturday was my day off before club matches on Sunday. There were many challenges that I had to face being at the academy: I was the only girl, but having grown up playing cricket mainly with boys this really didn’t phase me much and probably pushed me more to my limits, I had to find my way round lots of places on trams and buses with little idea where I was going, learning to plan ahead before sessions. Being so far away from home was a strange feeling, but I got over that quickly and had a fantastic time with the new people I met as well as keeping my promise of contact with the family back home.
Australia Day is a big public holiday around Australia where most people have the day off, throw a party or go to the cricket. Being at the academy there was no slacking! Although there were no net sessions that day, we still had to complete an 8.00 am ‘Snake Pit’. It was as bad as it sounds and worse. A shortish trail but a sand pit and extremely steep hills. Not too long but it had to be completed 8 times within a time limit.
As part of the conditioning we went to a couple of boxing classes. The final one that we did was particularly brutal and possibly even worse than the snake pit. It was a game that he called ‘Hit the Deck’. We had a whole deck of cards including the jokers, each suit was a different exercise (sprints, push ups, burpees, tuck jumps) and the number on each card was the number of times you had to complete the exercise. And of course it decided it was going to be a hot day so all of this was outside in about 35 degree heat. Overall it took about 50 minutes to get through the pack and I can honestly say that that was probably the toughest 50 minutes of exercise I’ve gone through in my life, not just physically but mentally keeping yourself going in those conditions. One quote that really stuck with with me was the importance of mental toughness and how we have to train our minds not just our bodies was, “a weak mind can’t push a strong body, but a strong mind can push a weak body.”
I was attached to the Southern District Cricket Club and played for their A Grade women’s team while I was there. Throughout January, February and the start of March there were a mixture of T20 and 50 over matches. With the team having not been very successful in the first half of the season it was good to be part of a win against Northern District. Having been in Thailand with the Scotland Women at the end of November I had a bit of experience playing in hot conditions which probably made it slightly easier adapting. It’s always difficult coming into a team of players you really don’t know much about and haven’t met before but they made me feel very welcome and I had a great time playing with them. It was also an exciting experience not just being presented with my first cap for Southern District but my first baggy cap. I took quite a few wickets and made some runs - with one 50 and a few good partnerships. I think I learnt a lot about adapting to different conditions and also having a proper game plan for myself before going into a game.
The Greenshield's family kindly offered to put me up for the time I was there - and through them I learnt a lot about Aussie life and made some great friends. Obviously being in Australia was mainly for the cricket but there was a bit of extra time. I spent some afternoons on the beach in Glenelg where I was introduced to the best ice-cream from Copenhagen. Many activities were also held at the club, one of which was the pink quiz night. Everyone dresses in as much pink as possible and that was a great thing to be a part of helping get prizes and set up the club for the night.
It was amazing to be so close to a big cricket ground like the Adelaide Oval where the Adelaide Strikers played their home matches in the Big Bash competition. It was brilliant to be able go to 3 Strikers matches and the women’s and men’s T20 international matches between Australia and India. I went with a few of my new team mates and they took great delight in putting an Aussie flag round my shoulders and cap to wear!!
So much cricket meant that I had little time to travel, so it was great to have a couple of weeks at the end when Mum and Dad arrived. We drove through the outback from Alice Springs to Uluru, did lots of walking, snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef, went to the rainforest and saw saltwater crocodiles, visited Sydney and went to an open air opera on Sydney harbour, walked in the Blue Mountains and finally returned to the Adelaide Oval where the ground had been transformed into a footie pitch and we watched an Aussie Rules match. I’ll definitely have to go back one day as poor wee Sarah had to stay at school and do a piano exam.
3 months is a relatively short time to improve my skills massively but what I learnt was how to learn and how to keep on developing as I come back home. Not to slip back into old habits but to keep setting myself targets and having an aim for each session rather than just turning up and going through the motions. It was strange coming back to Scotland as it seems like time has completely flown by and like I’d hardly been away at all but I’m very much looking forward to a busy season with the Wildcats and hopefully a successful one.