We spoke to Northern Diamonds and Scotland cap number 73 Rachel Slater following her debut for the National Team at the Commonwealth Games Qualifier in Malaysia last month.
How did it go from being born in New York to playing cricket in Leeds?
My parents moved to New York State for my dad’s work. I’m a triplet so me and my brother and sister were born out there. My parents were living in Leeds beforehand, and they moved back to Leeds when we were about two and a half – three years old and I’ve been here ever since. My mum is from Giffnock and all my mum’s side of the family is Scottish. That’s the connection with Scotland.
So you’re playing down in England and at some stage a conversation happens about you getting involved in the Scotland setup. When did that conversation start and how did it come to fruition?
It was at the end of last season. There was a bit of chat about playing for USA because I was born there. Then our Regional Director, James Carr used work with Cricket Scotland and, and brought that into the equation as well. Obviously I’ve got Scottish family and I felt like Scotland was a country that I felt more passionately for. I was born in the USA, but other than being born there and living there as kids, I don’t remember much. There’s not a huge connection, but we have a lot of Scottish family and I visit there. So that definitely felt like the best option for me. I think James got in touch with Mark (Coles) and it just went from there.
When did you first speak to the team? Was that before the Commonwealth Games or was it on the journey there?
I came up for a couple of camps beforehand at the end of November and then one just before Christmas and trained with the team, so I’d met them a couple of times and before I went out, which is always nice before you go on a month-long tour.
I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but even just meeting the girls once or twice, I didn’t really feel like I knew them that well. I’ve never really had to do anything like that before, then to go and then live in a bubble for a month. But I had a great time and I just felt completely part of the squad so that was really good.
At some point during the trip you were made aware that you were going to make your debut. Who told you that you were going to get your first cap?
Mark and Gemaal (Hussain – Assistant Coach) spoke to me in one of the training sessions beforehand and outlined what the plan would be in terms of games. I had quite a bit of a heads up and so I could prepare for it.
What were your expectations of Scotland as a team and how did you find when you the abilities that you saw there?
I’d played a bit against Kathryn and Sarah (Bryce). I wouldn’t say I really knew a lot of the players, but I’ve only got positive things to say about the group.
It’s like I feel like I got a lot out of the trip, and I definitely learned a lot and have already become a better cricketer for it. I know to the girls in Scotland I’m ‘down south’ but we play what we would call ‘the Northern way’ and it’s very similar in the Scotland side. The determination and fight, there is lot of overlap with that. I think that helps me fit in and I think it is an exciting group with a lot of good young players like (Katherine) Fraser. She’s only 16 and ridiculously good at that age. I think the future is looking pretty good for the group.
I don’t see any reason why we can’t compete with the bigger teams with the players we’ve got. I think it’s good that the younger players are not just in the side on their own and quite quiet. They’re not afraid to speak up and get involved and are really mature young women.
You signed a professional contract end of last year, right?
In October. I hadn’t played for Diamonds at all before the Hundred and I then got brought into the Superchargers squad and played before I even made my Diamonds debut. And then broke into the Diamonds team back end of the season after the Hundred and they offered me a full-time contract. If you’d have told me three months before that it was going to happen like that I probably would have lost it. But I guess that’s just how things work sometimes.
How was it being involved in the Hundred?
It was class really. I loved every minute. I only played one game and didn’t get to play as much as I would have liked, but hopefully this year I’ll get another opportunity. If it comes I can take it, put in the performances and take a step up from domestic cricket.
Any cricketing idols when you were growing up?
I remember when I’d play on the driveway with my brothers, I would always try and emulate Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, as they were left arm seamers. Also Freddie Flintoff is a big character and not afraid to let that character and personality come through on the pitch and also like to have a laugh while they’re playing cricket.
What is the 2022 season looking like for you going forward?
We’ve got (Yorkshire) county stuff coming in April and then Diamonds will kick in around mid-May. I think our first game is against Loughborough Lightning with Kathryn and Sarah! Then hopefully the Hundred in August if I get the opportunity. Of course, the World Cup Qualifiers with Scotland as well. I’m already looking forward to getting back with the girls and just being around the squad again.