They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder – and now that she is back in the Scotland squad Abbi Aitken-Drummond is loving her cricket once again and is excited about the upcoming international tournament on home soil.
The Wildcats have had a hectic summer with the ICC Women’s World T20 European Qualifier in La Manga, Spain in June followed by the recent T20 Quadrangular Series in the Netherlands.
Aitken-Drummond, the former Scotland captain, returned to the fold for the second of those two events and with the rest of the players is now preparing for the big one – the ICC Women’s World T20 World Qualifier between August 31 and September 7.
All the matches will take place at Arbroath CC or Forfarshire CC and, featuring eight teams, the tournament is the final qualifier for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup to be held in Australia in February and March next year.
And for head coach Steve Knox, captain Kathryn Bryce and the rest of the Scotland group, Aitken-Drummond’s comeback has been perfectly timed because she brings a bucketload of talent to a young squad.
It was October 2017 when Aitken-Drummond decided to step down as national team skipper after eight years at the helm.
The player, 28, with well over 100 caps to her name said: “I enjoyed my years as captain of the team, but with me working at Cricket Scotland too it just became cricket, cricket, cricket for me and I felt I and the team needed a change at that time.
“I continued to play and was part of the national team after that, but my cricket began to suffer for some reason and then over the winter past I was given to the opportunity to head out and work in New Zealand.
“It was a secondment to get the chance to work on the events side of things with Northern Districts Cricket at Seddon Park in Hamilton. It was an amazing opportunity for me to learn and I had to throw myself into things workwise and didn’t play much cricket whilst I was out there.
“During my time there India men and women played ODIs against New Zealand at Seddon Park while there was a men’s Test against Bangladesh and the domestic Super Smash competition to work on.
“That all kept me so busy and was a great experience.
“I trained with the Northern Spirit women’s squad out there which was great, but didn’t play matches and then I came home in April.”
Next up was to be the biggest match of her career when she married former Scotland player Annette Drummond and with so much going on out with the sport she took a big decision.
“I was getting married in June so myself and Scotland head coach Steve Knox decided it would be best if, after six months away and a busy time away from the pitch at the start of our summer, I took some time away from cricket,” the player who works as Cricket Scotland’s Events Executive stated.
“I had had a very busy time from a hectic summer in Scotland in 2018 to that point I didn’t feel like I was playing my best cricket so I took a step back for a while.
“I still played club cricket at Carlton, played regional games and kept my fitness up, but I think a step back from Scotland stuff was the right decision at the time.
“It has all been a bit of a whirlwind, I had to miss the La Manga event, but I am back now.
“I certainly married into the right family for cricketing advice!
“Annette has been super supportive and understands what it means to me to play for my country as does her brother Gordon [Drummond, the former Scotland men’s captain and now Cricket Scotland’s Performance Pathway Manager].
“I have still been in and around the squad over the last year or so, but now to be back fully involved training and playing is great.
“There has been a big turnover of players, but the young ones coming through have so much talent and they are doing really well.
“I am just trying to take the younger ones under my wing and help them along with my experience.
“I want them to all reach their potential and I will give everything I have – for as long as I have left – in a Scotland shirt to make sure they do that.
“The average age in the squad is frightening to be honest, but they are all great players and it is so exciting for the future.”
First up in that exciting future is the aforementioned ICC Women’s World T20 World Qualifier.
And rather than being nervous about playing in font of family and friends on home turf, Aitken-Drummond wants her team mates to embrace the challenge.
“I have been trying to impress on the youngsters just how special it will be to play in a big event at home,” she explained.
“We have been working hard and we cannot wait to get started soon.”