Blog: Ollie Rae insights from NZ
Another of our Scotland internationalist has been wintering in New Zealand. Ollie Rae who headed straight from Thailand has given us an insight to cricketscotland.com on her trip
It is often claimed that to improve your cricket there's nothing better than spending time out in the middle. I was very fortunate to have travelled to New Zealand after the WT20 qualifiers in November, which led to an amazing 3 months training, playing and coaching. With family and friends over here, the prospect of a winter in the sunshine playing cricket became an opportunity too good to be missed. Initially, I was returning to Scotland at the end of January for work, but a change in circumstances allowed me to spend an entire winter in the sun. I must thank Ross Brooks for his patience when I requested him to change my return flight from Bangkok to Scotland (twice!).
I believe that in cricket, as in life, it's all about expanding your learning and knowing that learning is limitless. As a player and a coach my goals are to continue experiencing the game in a variety of forms as no cricket match, team, competition or country are the same. This is one of the many reasons I love the sport as you have to adapt to new situations, places and teams and therefore you are on a constant path of learning.
With no concrete plans for my stay in Auckland I got in touch with Neil Gray, Scot and former employee of Auckland cricket, for an introduction to any clubs that I could play for. There was a women's one day competition left to play so there was plenty of game time and training on the cards. I'm so glad I got in touch with Neil, who is always looking to support the Scottish girls abroad and the development of the women's game as a whole. Thanks to his guidance I started training and playing for Takapuna Women's Prem team and it's been an absolute blast! We reached the final of the one day comp unbeaten, eventually achieving the runners up spot against Cornwall Cricket Club.
Right from the start I felt welcomed into the Takapuna team and this is credit to a great bunch of girls who are guided by a passionate and committed coach. I was fortunate to play alongside and learn from representative players from Auckland Hearts, Central Hinds and Northern Spirit and other emerging rep players. All of the players are promising cricketers and this was reflected in our strong team performances.
I also had the support and assistance of Parnell Cricket Club where I have attended additional men's training twice a week led by Ian Trott, father to former England cricketer Jonathan Trott. I played with the men's 3rds side when I had free time from the women's one day comp. I must thank Parnell Cricket Club for assisting with my training and development, in particular Bryan Haggitt from the club who sourced me coaching and his general hospitality during the stay was very humbling. It was great to get to play a small part in helping develop the game in Auckland through coaching.
I represented two more teams in the past months, bringing the total to four! I was able to go back to my club in Christchurch, Sydenham, for a few games and I played a first grade game in Queensland for Gold Coast Dolphins. Thank you to Sydenham for welcoming me back, I will always be proud to wear the shirt! Playing in Queensland was an awesome experience and my first competitive game of cricket in Australia. It was great to see fellow Scottish cricketer Lily Steindl who was playing for the opposition (Wests) and Carlton women's coach Pete Steindl on the sidelines. Small world! I was impressed by the professionalism and standard of the game and it was great to experience some different playing conditions. Thank you to the Dolphins for the opportunity to play!
On the topic of Scottish cricketers abroad, it was great to have Wildcats teammate Samantha Haggo around Auckland for the occasional yarn! Playing on opposing teams in the women's comp offered some healthy competition for the two of us and when we finally came head to head we ended up getting each other out! It was also great to train and play alongside Joe Kinghorn-Gray from RHC who is playing and coaching at Parnell Cricket Club, Joe is hugely respected and doing a great job! I was fortunate to be able to watch the White Ferns take on the Southern Stars on a number of occasions and catch up with fellow Carlton teammate Leigh Kasperek who is having an impact at the highest level. It is safe to say Scotland is well represented in New Zealand showcasing the passion we have for the game and the pride to connect ourselves back to Scotland.
On top of my cricket training I had some incredible support for my strength and conditioning over the past few months from PT Rhiannon Morgan who works at the Auckland University gym. Massive shout out to her for supporting my development and being able to use the university gym was awesome, it's a great facility.
As some of the players I have coached will know, I love to share what I have learned. Someone once told me that the affect you have on people is the most important thing you can offer. This leads me to reflect on the recent passing of New Zealand cricketer Martin Crowe. To see a nation grieve for someone who offered the game so much locally and globally was a sobering time and one I believe we can all take inspiration from. Quite clearly Crowe had a positive effect on almost everyone he met. Talking about Crowe current black cap Ross Taylor, who I had the pleasure of briefly meeting, said he was influenced greatly by him.
"Martin has been a mentor to me for almost my entire first-class career. In both the good times and the more trying times Martin has always been there for me. His advice, technical understanding and nous, coupled with his unwavering belief and loyalty in me have made my job as a professional cricketer that much easier. I shall always be grateful to him."
Unwavering belief and loyalty is something I have taken forward into my own coaching and playing. When others have belief in you it can help you believe in yourself. As a coach or a senior player there is always the opportunity to mentor and support others. Thank you to Chris, Head Coach of Takapuna Prem women's team, for your belief in me this season.
I have learned heaps during my time away and the hospitality of the Kiwis never ceases to amaze me. The support from my teammates at Takapuna, Sydenham and Parnell has been overwhelming and contributed to an incredibly memorable experience. All of the lifts to games and trainings, the offers of part time work and general friendships (and life advice!) made me feel so comfortable and I can't wait to return the favours one day. I am really looking forward to the upcoming season with the Wildcats and Carlton and continuing to develop my game.