#ClubToCountry: Katie McGill

Katie McGill speaks to Gary Heatly about her journey from #ClubToCountry.

Cricket Scotland @CricketScotland
October 29, 2020 3 years

Katie McGill was born in Brighton and got her first taste of cricket when she was at primary school and then, when the family moved to Surrey, she joined the newly forming Lady Llamas team at Reigate Priory CC and a love for the sport grew and grew.

“My earliest memories of cricket are playing through a club at my primary school and the teachers and coaches involved in that being great,” she recounts.

“Then, back when cricket was on free to air TV a lot more, I made deals with my mum that allowed me to watch bits of the Ashes in return for doing chores around the house.

“That was the age of Gough, Ponting, Warne into Freddie and KP and it was amazing to watch meaning that, although I definitely didn’t understand the significance and the ups and downs of the Ashes through that time, I was definitely sold on the sport.

“My first club was Reigate Priory CC in Surrey. I wasn’t playing cricket at the time [2006, aged 14] but a PE teacher at school remembered that I had joined the boys’ practice in earlier years and mentioned that her husband’s club was starting a women’s team, so I went along and ended up getting stuck in. 

“As with many women’s teams, we started as a couple of cricketers, a handful of hockey players looking for a summer sport and whoever else we could convince to come along. 

“It was, and still is, a great club, but cricket was very much a social sport for me at the time.”

So, when did cricket become more than just a social sport for Katie?

“The performance aspect started to develop through my time up here through the Edinburgh University Cricket Club,” the player, who has gone on to play in 20 T201s for Scotland, said.

“The consistency of all year round training, coaching and tournaments – indoor and outdoor – got the competitive drive inside me going.

“ As I started to spend more time in Edinburgh, I also joined Carlton CC. Both EUCC and Carlton offered a balance between involvement in women’s teams and opportunities to get more experience playing in men’s teams, which definitely helped develop certain aspects of my game.  

“After around five years at Carlton, in 2017 I moved across town to Edinburgh South CC to take on a player/coach role and helped establish and develop a new set-up and opportunities for women and girls there.  

“I’ve been incredibly lucky in the support that I’ve had from all the clubs I’ve been involved in, which continues now at ESCC. I still get on the park with the guys whenever I can between Scotland commitments and I always come away smiling.”

With things having built up steadily with her cricket at a club level, Katie began to become well known within the sport in Scotland.

Having been here for a few years since university, she also became eligible to represent Scotland on residency grounds.

So when did she believe she could play internationally?

“Probably not until I got my first call-up, I’d not been training with the squad long when I got selected,” the 28-year-old said.

“I didn’t see myself as on the level of the other players around the squad at first, I just loved the training environment and the challenge of improving. Getting selected was a complete whirlwind.

“It means a huge amount to me to play for Scotland. 

“Although I grew up south of the border, a massive part of my cricket development has been here in Scotland and through Scottish systems and people.  

“Wearing the thistle is a culmination of all that. So much work and passion is put into that team, it’s a privilege to be able to represent the country – and ‘Flower of Scotland’ is a belter!

“I often think about how my route to international cricket has been unconventional. I didn’t play through my early teenage years and only really pushed myself as I got into my 20s. 

“There are other sports and set-ups where I would have missed the boat, but people gave me a chance along the way. I can’t really believe how far I’ve come, while still feeling close to those original clubs and people I played with.

“A number of people have inspired and helped me and I don’t think there are many people involved in women’s cricket in Scotland that wouldn’t have Kari Carswell on their list of mentors.

“She gave me my first opportunity to train with the squad and was the player/coach that picked me for my first county and international tours and caps. 

“Since then we have spent a season together in New Zealand where she put up with me crashing on an airbed in her flat for a decent chunk of time and we’ve had some good times away from cricket too. 

“She’s definitely been a sounding board and kept me right along the way. She has also been really supportive of me when I have taken on coaching roles and opportunities. Before playing for Scotland, I was also involved in coaching the under-17s through her.  

“Getting my coaching qualification was one of my first involvements with Cricket Scotland. 

“Gordon Drummond and Steve Paige ran that course and they’ve popped up along my cricketing journey since in a number of places.

“They’re always friendly faces and offer encouragement and advice, so it’s great to have those threads of consistency which is something I think is special about the cricket community in Scotland.”

Katie is currently working very hard on a PhD and coming back from injury so will not be with the Scotland squad heading to La Manga in November, but she has plenty of other things going on to keep her busy.

Anyone that has seen my social media will know I’ve got a dog called Dhugal,” she said.

“He’s my wee daily escape from everything. When I’ve got the time, we get out to the hills either walking or on a bike – Dhugie has a trailer that hitches to my bike to make sure he doesn’t miss out on the bigger adventures!

“I’ll often have some little tinkering project on the go – often fixing a bike or some over ambitious DIY undertaking – and enjoy good food. Over lockdown, I’ve become a peak cliché and brought on a sourdough starter so have been playing about with my breadmaking through that.

“In terms of 2021, I’m looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2019 in terms of personal and team performances followed by injury and Covid-19 struggles this year.  

“The next couple of years have some great opportunities for the team and the squad is an exciting group to be a part of right now.

“I can’t wait to get back training and playing with them and that is driving my rehab effort.”

And any advice for youngsters who want to follow the same path into cricket?

“Enjoy today’s challenge and keep it fun,” Katie stated.

“If you love playing, your development will come and opportunity follows that.”

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