It has been quite a summer for Hannah Rainey. After impressing in the Cricket Scotland Regional Series and the Vitality Women’s Twenty20 Cup, the Eagles bowler has the chance of an international debut at the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier after being called into the full Scotland squad for the first time. With twenty-first birthday celebrations and a third year at the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies safely negotiated, too, 2018 is already turning into a red-letter year.
“It was so exciting to get the email to say I had been selected,” said Hannah. “I’d been training with the squad over the winter but I didn’t really expect to play, so when I got the call-up it was a huge thrill because it was so unexpected.
“It’s such a good atmosphere to be in because the whole team is really supportive of each other and I’m very much enjoying being a part of it all.”
Hannah’s place on the plane to Holland represents the biggest accolade so far in a career which began in after-school Kwik Cricket a decade ago.
“I got into cricket quite late on I suppose,” she said. “I had moved to Scotland [from Kent] when I was ten and although my Dad was really keen on the game I’d never played before.
“But my best friend’s Dad was involved at Carlton Cricket Club and when they started up Kwik Cricket for girls on a Wednesday night I went along with her to that. At that time Leigh Kasperek was a teenager helping out with Eric Edwards who was one of the Dads. It was great and we went for weeks and weeks over the summer and came back year on year.
“Then Eastern Under-16 Regionals were set up, and at the time Katie McGill and Ollie Rae were coaching it – I feel like they were my first proper coaches – and then from there I was asked to join the [Scotland] Under-17s, although I only had a season with them before I was too old. So I was quite late to serious cricket, certainly compared to someone like Kathryn Bryce who has been playing since she was very young, but once I got into it I kept playing.”
Hannah made her debut for Scotland ‘A’ against Durham in April 2017 but has advanced her case for a first full cap with some strong performances this season. The newly remodelled Regional Series is providing particularly valuable opportunities, she says.
“As a national team we have been told that we need to be prioritising the Regional Series because we need to be playing at the highest standard we can and obviously it provides really good preparation,” said Hannah.
“The rebranding of the competition has been excellent. A lot of my friends didn’t know anything about the regional competition last year but now they know all about the Eagles and the Stormers. It’s exciting for the younger girls who get called up, too, because it’s hyped-up a lot more and is a big thing to be involved in.
“Speaking personally I’ve had mixed fortunes over the two days we’ve played so far,” she continued. “I took three wickets [for 34] in the fifty-over game which was nice but in the second I had to come off with a back injury. I’m still working through the physio of that now so, yes, that second day wasn’t the best for me unfortunately.”
Since that interruption, however, her path has continued upward. After taking 1 for 14 on her Wildcats debut against Charlotte Edwards’ Hampshire in the ECB’s domestic T20 competition, Hannah took 2 for 32 in the nine-wicket win over England Academy Women at Loughborough. Exposure to a higher level of cricket over the course of the year has, she says, brought immediate benefits.
“I’ve definitely become more tactically aware,” said Hannah. “I didn’t really know what field worked best for my bowling, for example, didn’t really understand why I should have particular fielders where, but I’m much more conscious of that now. I’m trying to get ahead of the batsman rather than reacting to them, and the senior girls and coaches have been a massive help in that.”
And there will be no greater test of those skills than what lies ahead in the Netherlands as Scotland’s Women look to qualify for the final stages of an ICC global tournament for the first time in their history.
“I’m really excited and a bit nervous too I guess,” said Hannah. “But there’s a real buzz about the team at the moment. Our performances have been getting better over the past few weeks and hopefully we’ll peak at the right time.
“We’re playing well and doing what we want to do but we still have more to give. That’s a positive thing. There’s a bit more in us and hopefully we can show that when the tournament begins.”