Kari Carswell - Life in New Zealand
Scotland’s Kari Carswell blogs on her experiences in New Zealand for the Cricket Scotland website, as she takes up her new role and finds herself playing alongside a familiar face.
Normally at the end of August I look forward to an extended rest period, time to chill out, catch up with friends and family and take time away from cricket by watching my beloved Falkirk FC. 2016 was different and was always going to be once I decided to take a leap into the unknown and fly to the other side of the world!
The numerous drinks, and “last one for the road” calls are well remembered and as I jetted off to experience something new, I reflected on what was an enjoyable five years working at Cricket Scotland. As the old saying goes ‘All good things come to an end’ and everyone I met and told I was going to New Zealand told me I’d love it; first things first though I had a 6 day ‘holiday’ in Sydney catching up with fellow Wildcat Fi Urquhart. Fi and her fiancé Chris obviously forgot I was on holiday as we spent many a day hiking around Sydney in the baking heat, although I did get a cheeky look at Bondi Beach along the way.
Fast forward to September 21st which was the date I was due to start work for Northern Districts (ND); a few last-minute visa hiccups was never part of the plan but you learn to go with the flow! So, visa issues sorted roughly two weeks after first stepping foot in the country and I’m ready to get my head around a new country, new lifestyle and a new job. Playing cricket is something I’ve been doing for a long time, but playing back to back seasons is not something I’ve ever done so it was always going to be a challenge for me mentally and physically, no down time, no chilling out, just full on cricket.
I joined a men’s club team, Hamilton Old Boys and with Northern Districts new women’s competition the Northern Premier League (NPL) I was sure I’d have plenty of cricket to keep me A) occupied and B) out of trouble! Making your first appearance for a new team is always daunting and trying to figure out in your first warm up if your skills are going to be up to scratch is essentially what every new player does, right? Well there was no need to panic for my first game for Old Boys, 1) There was no warm up and 2) It was freezing cold, the hand warmers I brought from home have gone down a treat with some of the young fellas!!
The NPL is ND’s premiere women’s competition. Bringing together the best female cricketers of all ages from the ND region but also some top-quality cricketers from outside the area. Playing alongside and against cricketers who have played in World Cup’s is such an awesome experience, even at 34. I’ve learnt so much about my game in a short space of time . . .. I’ve also told people here I’m only 20, but somehow I don’t think they believe me!
I’m lucky enough to be player/coach for the Galaxy team and although we haven’t yet notched our first win of the tournament yet, we’ve played some good cricket at times. We are looking to get our first win on the board this weekend when we play the leaders of the pack, Power. I’ve brought in a well-known ringer to the girls back home, Wildcat Katie McGill, so I’m looking for some McGill magic to get us on our way.
Both Katie and I have also played two rounds for the Northern Spirit in the New Zealand domestic competition, again a first for both of us. It’s fair to say that the Spirit aren’t expected to cause many upsets as they have normally finished towards the bottom end of the table in both the 50 and 20 over competitions of late, but we’ve managed to chalk up a 50 over win against Auckland in Round 1, plus a 20 over win against Wellington in Round 2.
The domestic rounds happen over three days, 20 overs on Friday followed by 50 over games on Saturday and Sunday. Three intense days of cricket but enjoyable nonetheless. The spirit coaching and management team of Emily Drumm, Mark Crawford and Louise Milliken have been very welcoming and haven’t been shy in passing on their experience - their Scottish accents are coming on a treat too! Next up for the Spirit is games against Canterbury and Otago in December and early January before finishing off the season with games against Central Districts.
I’m trying hard to keep up to date with all things Scottish Cricket and of course the shenanigans of the Wildcats who are working hard in the run up to the Qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka in February. Facetime is a wonderful invention and keeping in touch has been made so easy. I’m always grateful of messages and calls from back home, yes the experience of being away is tough but it’s made easier with my weekly catch ups from home!
If you struggle to sleep back on UK time, fear not! You can keep up to date with the NPL follow – Northern Premier League on Facebook and you can catch the Spirit by logging on to blackcaps.co.nz when the games are on.
There’s only one last thing to do but that’s to wish everyone at Cricket Scotland and at clubs around Scotland a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2017.
I’m lucky enough to be spending Christmas in Melbourne . . .. well someone has to!