INTERVIEW: A Tough Year At The Top For Surrey’s Kirstie White

The last match of the summer was something of a metaphor for 2016 as a whole for Surrey’s Kirstie White: she carried her bat for 98*, but Surrey went on to lose the game by 3 wickets; meaning that White finished the season as the leading run-scorer in Div 1 of the Women’s County Championship, with 337 runs, ahead of names like Heather Knight (308 runs), Tammy Beaumont (292) and Suzie Bates (206); but even so, Surrey were relegated to Div 2, finishing the season with just 1 win from 8.

White, now 28, has been around the scene for a long time – starting out at Hampshire, she made her first appearance in the Super 4s back in 2004. After taking an extended break from the game in her early 20s, she came back for Surrey in 2012, with her breakthrough season coming in 2014, when she scored 320 runs. She was the county’s leading run-scorer in 2015, and obviously again in 2016, when her contribution was recognised by the award of a coveted “baggy brown” by the county.

But it was the possibility of selection for the new Kia Super League which really motivated White coming into the 2016 season:

“I worked a lot harder this year over the winter – I put in a lot of my own time and [Surrey and Surrey Stars Coach] Jeremy [Greaves] worked really hard with me as well to get into some good nick. I wanted to get selected for the Super League, so I made sure I put a shift in!”

After a great start to the county season, with a 69 against Berkshire – a career-best which lasted only until the next round, when she bettered it with a 76 v Yorkshire – White was in a great place to shine in the Super League for the Surrey Stars.

Tragically, however, it wasn’t to be, as injury ruled her out of the tournament just days before it got underway:

“I was devastated – everything I’d worked hard for since November – I put in a shift, and then a freak injury occurred – it is just the nature of sport I guess, but what a time to get injured.”

A rapid rehabilitation, and a rescheduled County Championship match against Sussex, two weeks after the “official” end of the season, nevertheless offered some opportunity for catharsis, which White grabbed with both hands, making yet another career-best of 98*; but it wasn’t enough to save Surrey from the drop:

“We are disappointed to go down – especially when we’ve put in some good performances but just failed to cross the finish line a little bit – but it is time to rebuild and look to come back up next season.”

Meanwhile for White a well-earned holiday… and then a renewed determination to pursue her Super League dream again next year:

“I’ll take a little bit of a break – just keeping fit and making sure I don’t get too lazy – and then it is back into training – there is a long hard winter to put in again but I’d love to be a part of the Super League next season.”