Ollie Rae Anticipates a Tough Sri Lankan Challenge
Ollei Rae speaks to Gary Heatly ahead of the ICC Women's Global Qualifier in Sri Lanka.
Top order batter Ollie Rae feels that a winter spent at home honing her technique has done her the world of good as she prepares to go up against some of the world’s top bowlers in the next few weeks.
The Scotland Women’s players are currently getting set for the ICC World Cup qualifiers and will depart on Sunday for two warm-up games against Ireland in Dubai before travelling on to the main event.
There, after a final warm-up match against Zimbabwe, they will face South Africa (February 8), Bangladesh (February 10), Papua New Guinea (February 11) and Pakistan (February 13) in Group B.
The top four teams after the ‘Super Six’ stage will join Australia, hosts England, New Zealand and West Indies in the World Cup in June and July.
It looks as if Rae, 28, may open the batting with teenager Sarah Bryce having struck up a good understanding last in recent times - and the former feels in fine fettle as the big tournament edges nearer.
She has played abroad before in New Zealand, but stayed in Scotland this time around to train, work and study.
“I have been doing a lot of batting over the winter, really working hard on technique and playing a lot of ‘in game’ scenarios out so I am ready to bat in any sort of situation,” she explained.
“I feel prepared for the tournament now and want to test myself against quality bowlers.
“It really helps me that head coach Steve Knox has had a long career as a top order batsman and that he has often opened for the teams he has played for too.
“I can take lots of tips from him about building and pacing an innings and I hope to put that to the test in Sri Lanka.
“As for Sarah [Bryce], well she just seems to take everything in her stride for someone who is just 17. She is mentally tough for a teenager and I think she enjoys having her older sister Kathryn around the squad too.
“We enjoy batting together and if given the opportunity to again we will give it our best shot.”
Obviously the heat the players will face in Sri Lanka will be a lot warmer and humid than in Scotland, even if it has been a mild winter period in 2016/17 to date!
To try and prepare the squad for what is to come, Knox and co ‘turned up the heat’ when the home-based players were on a training weekend in Loughborough recently.
“They have great facilities down there and in the halls where we were training there is the capability to be able to change the temperature settings so that teams can get used to conditions as they would be abroad,” Rae, who made her Scotland debut in 2010, explained.
“The humidity was pretty tough as the training day went on, but I think it was really good for us all to get a taste of it.
“Loughborough was great and this winter has been one of the first times we have had training weekends away as a group and it has been really good.
“We spend a lot of time in the summer playing matches, but on these types of training stints we can all do fitness in the morning, help each other work on certain things and then also socialise more.
“There are quite a few players of different ages in the squad so it is good to get to know everyone’s background and things like that and it has just made us tighter as a group.
“I think the Dubai week before Sri Lanka will also be invaluable as a staging post before the event ‘proper’ and to get us all out on grass wickets again.”
In the summer of 2016 Edinburgh-based Rae - who is a coach and is also completing a doctorate at Durham University part-time - had a few days she will never forget.
Firstly she received her 50th Scotland cap and then hit a superb 171 not out for Carlton Women against Galloway in the Scottish Cup at Grange Loan.
And if the player who was raised in Durham - and is also seen as one of the national side’s key fielders - can make more positive memories like those in the coming weeks then everyone in Scottish cricket will be smiling.