Meet the Wildcats - Abbi Aitken
With the departure to the ICC Women’s T20 Qualifier in Thailand only a few short weeks away for the Scotland women’s team, Gary Heatly profiles captain Abbi Aitken for the Cricket Scotland website.
When Abbi Aitken made her Scotland debut as a 14-year-old she could only dream of leading her country into a big event one day.
However, fast forward a decade and that is exactly what she is doing having been tasked with skippering the squad at the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Thailand which start later this month.
There the Scots will take on China, Ireland and Zimbabwe in warm-up matches and then Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh and Thailand in the group stages.
The top two from each group will progress to the semi-finals, with both finalists qualifying for the 2016 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in India.
Aitken knows the competition will test her 14-strong squad, but she is feeling confident given the way that women’s cricket has grown apace in Scotland over the last few years.
“When I was younger and made my debut I didn’t really think too much about things, I just tried to play my own game and do my best. At that stage perhaps the structures and pathways for women’s cricket were not quite in place, but that certainly is not the case now,” Aitken, 24, said.
“Girls cricket has become much bigger in schools and clubs nowadays while we have seen the formation of many more women’s sections at clubs at a senior level.
“All of this has meant that more women are getting involved in the sport and we have seen in the last couple of years that the young players coming through are really talented and have great futures ahead of them.
“At a national level there is a lot of competition for places and to pick the best 14 was really tough, but we believe that the group of players we have gone for can do well in this competition in Thailand.
“As the Wildcats we managed to play a lot of cricket against strong opponents over the summer and that will help us going into this tournament.”
Aitken grew up in Montrose and was first introduced to the sport of cricket when a taster session was held at her primary school.
From then she was hooked and she headed along to Montrose Cricket Club where she played in boy’s teams at age-grade level - and more than held her own.
As previously mentioned she made her first ever Scotland appearance when she was just 14 and from there her career has gone from strength-to-strength.
“I was also a keen footballer at the time, but I knew there would come a point where I would have to choose one sport or the other and I went for cricket. I still enjoy football, but cricket is my passion,” she explained.
“After school I headed to Robert Gordon’s University in Aberdeen to study event management and while I was there I joined Aberdeenshire Cricket Club and played my cricket there while also continuing to represent Scotland.”
Now Aitken plays her club cricket at both Stirling County and Carlton and she is approaching the amazing milestone of 100 caps for her country.
To date only Kari Anderson - who is still playing in the squad and coaches them too - and Kathryn White have reached three figures and Aitken said: “I believe I can make the 100 cap mark when we are in Thailand.
“For myself personally that would be something to be very proud of, but for me this trip is all about the group and what we can achieve - I cannot wait!”
You can follow the Scotland team's progress in the run up and during the competition on Twitter: @Wildcatscricket