Following their Commonwealth Games qualifying campaign, Scotland womens captain Kathryn Bryce shares her experiences and look ahead to the 2022 season.
What were your expectations going into the Commonwealth Games qualifiers and how do you feel it went?
I think we knew there was going to be a big challenge going out there and with only one spot to qualify.
In a tournament with the highest ranked team that we’ve probably played against in Sri Lanka I think we always knew it’s going to be a real challenge going out there, but also an exciting opportunity.
It had a bit more meaning and in a different sort of way with it being the Commonwealth Games, and I think it’s something that you’ve really got invested in the past when growing up and watching all the different sports that you do. When it was in Glasgow, going around and watching different sports that I probably never would otherwise watch. So that aspect of being a Commonwealth Games and how far we got being part of that journey.
But I think it was also an exciting opportunity with how we’ve gone in the last couple of years and trying to really push on as a team and play a more exciting kind of brand of cricket to get to that next level, with all the internationals we are playing and also these franchise tournaments.
With the confidence of having won the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup European qualifiers, taking that confidence into the Commonwealth Games qualifiers is exciting. I think that it showed in a way and I think there’s so much that we’ve taken from it. It might not necessarily come across in the scoreboards when you lose by 100 odd runs to Sri Lanka, but we were up with them at the end of the powerplay. And the way that we’re playing our cricket, especially with our batting was brilliant to see.
How was the squad playing in the hot conditions in Kuala Lumpur?
It was pretty tough. It was quite funny because the umpires at the briefing at the start said, ‘Oh look, we might have a drinks break at ten overs if we feel like it’s extreme conditions.’ we came back, ‘This is very extreme. It’s like 30+ degrees and humid.’ So we had lots of lots of hydration, lots of different cooling strategies to get through. Most of the girls did pretty well after the first couple of days to make it through the matches. It’s always quite a bit of a shock to the system, especially when you go out in the Winter when it’s been by 3 degrees here.
We also had a few injuries so Sue Strachan (Team Manager) and Charlotte Dalton-Howells (Strength & Conditioning Coach) were both running drinks.
There are a lot of young players in your team, some who are already quite experienced that have played a lot of games. How do you see where the team is just now in terms of the makeup of the team and where it could potentially go?
Yeah, there’s so many young, exciting players in the squad, and I think they’re starting to feel like they belong there a bit more as well. And I think it quite often happens with Associate Cricket that there’s quite a few young players and we’re probably the same. You play international cricket, probably before you’re ready to play international cricket because the numbers that we have here are quite low. So the younger ones in the squad are starting to find their feet a bit and believe that they’re supposed to be there and just back themselves to actually be able to make an impact on the game. They’re not just making up the numbers or anything like that, but they’re a really important part of the squad and they can really offer something.
It’s an exciting place where we’re going and even the more experienced players like Abbi (Aitken-Drummond) coming through as
a batter, she’s not hugely experienced player in that role. She’s obviously played 150 plus games for Scotland, but mainly as a bowler, so she’s just grown in confidence. I think what she showed on this tour will really help her to believe that she can do it as well. People have said it for years. ‘You can bat, you can actually do it.’ But actually going out there and and showing herself that what she’s worked on has paid off. So the oldies are doing it as well.
On the topic of sort of the young talent in the team you had 16-year-old Katherine Fraser, second top wicket taker at the tournament. How have you seen her development over the past few years?
What I noticed straight away is just her mentality and the level-headedness of just get on with it, work hard and not worry about too much else. She’s been absolutely incredible.
You wouldn’t look at her and think she’s only 16 when she’s playing. She just has really grown over the last couple of years. I think it was it was good for her a couple of years ago, Rachel Scholes was still playing, so it was good to have another senior off-spinner with her. But since she’s retired, it’s been amazing to see Katherine come through and take that responsibility. And at the age of 16, as you sometimes forget, she’s still got a lot to learn, and she’s just willing to take it all in and so far has done so well.
And you also had a debut for Rachel Slater?
Yes, she’s been in Leeds and has been playing for the Northern Diamonds. So it’s great to have her and she’s fit into the team really well and just doesn’t take herself too seriously, enjoys it, but is switched on with the cricket side of it. It’s exciting to have her and I don’t think we’ve ever had a left arm seamer in the squad so it’s exciting to have her and bring a different aspect to it.
You and your sister will have had plenty of experience playing in England. How have you found that for your development of your game?
I think it’s been really good. Just having the opportunity to be able to focus fully on cricket and not have to worry about getting a getting a job and doing cricket on the side and how you fit all in. So I think I’ve been really fortunate with the timing of how it’s all come about and just being able to really focus on cricket is fantastic.
So where this team is now, what would you say are the next steps? Where do you think the team can go, and what do they need to get there?
This is a really exciting place, and I think it’s probably the first time going into a global qualifiers that there’s been a real, genuine belief that we’re good enough to beat the likes of Bangladesh, Ireland and Thailand to make it to a World Cup. I think in the past, we’ve known that if we play a really good game, we might be able to beat them and kind of pull off an unexpected result, but having played in this tournament, I think there’s that belief that actually they’re not 100 miles ahead of us. We’ve actually got the players that are better than them and capable of beating them.
If we put in good performances and back our skills and do everything that we’ve been doing it just continuing that development. So I think that’s really exciting place to be in with real belief that we can qualify for the World Cup.
What is the 2022 cricket season looking like for you?
The first thing we’ve got coming up is me and Sarah (Bryce) playing in the Fairbreak Invitational tournament, which is at the start of May. Then as soon as we come back from that we’re into the Loughborough Lightning season, so we’ve got the T20s and possibly some 50 over before The Hundred at the start of August.
And then the global qualifiers (for the 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup) are on later in the year.