Kathryn Bryce prepared for ICC European Qualifier
As Scotland’s women prepare for three big matches against the Netherlands this week Kathryn Bryce has been reflecting on a busy - and successful - 12 months for her individually.
This time last year Bryce had just left school and since then she has played for her country at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Thailand, captained them against English opponents and spent three months honing her skills in Australia.
The 18-year-old all-rounder has become a key component of the ever-improving Scotland side and she is now looking forward to the ICC European 50-over qualifiers.
The series begins today at Garon Park Cricket Club, Essex with the second and third fixtures taking place tomorrow and Friday respectively.
The winner of the three match series will progress on to the global qualifying event early next year to compete for a place in the ICC Women’s World Cup which is being held in England next year.
Taking time out from training down south yesterday, Bryce said: “I think the Thailand tournament towards the end of last year was really the start of something special for Scottish women’s cricket going forward.
“For quite a long spell before that myself and other young players had been training with the international squad including intense sessions which we maybe were not used to.
“However, we stepped up and learnt a lot about our own games and by the time we went to Thailand the ones in the group who are even younger than myself did not feel nervous, but really felt part of the squad.
“In flashes out in Thailand we showed what we could do, but rather than be content with what we had achieved it spurred us on to become even better as a unit.
“Soon after that trip I was packing my bags up again for a stint in Australia so I wasn’t around the Scotland girls for a spell, but it was great to hear that the intensity in training continued over the winter and that everyone was pushing each other to get the best out of each other.
Just before the turn of the year, Bryce was jetting off to Adelaide to spend time at the Darren Lehmann Academy.
Having grown up playing cricket with boys, she was not overawed being the only girl there at the time and settled into her new surroundings quickly.
“It was certainly different that what I had been used to before out in Australia, but I just tried to embrace every challenge that came my way and training every day helped me to focus on my cricket,” she recounted.
“At times it was tough being so far away from home, but I knew it was just for a short spell and working with different coaches and listening to new ideas gave me a lot to think about as I headed back to Scotland ahead of the 2016 season.”
Fast forward a few months and with regular skipper Abbi Aitken unavailable, Bryce was selected by new coach Steve Knox to captain the Wildcats in a NatWest County 20 over Championshipdouble header.
That came earlier this month against Derbyshire and Cornwall and Bryce - whose younger sister Sarah also plays for Scotland - managed to record two victories.
“I guess there was a hint of nervousness being asked to lead the team because Abbi does such a great job, but the main feeling for me was one of pride and my family, friends and team mates were really pleased for me,” she explained.
“I tried just to go about my cricket in the same way as I always do while the experienced players around me helped out when I needed advice out on the pitch. It was a good test for me and hopefully the experience will just help me as my career moves forward.”
First up in that career progress for Bryce is these important matches against the Netherlands and the Watsonians player believes the Scots are in a good place just now.
She stated: “We played the Netherlands in a match on Sunday and it was a really close encounter with them just edging us out at the death.
“We had a good chat on Sunday night about the things we need to improve on this week and then we trained well on Monday so the girls cannot wait to get back out there on Tuesday.”
By Gary Heatly