Jake Perry reflects on the end of an era for Scotland.
As Scotland’s Women arrive home from Sri Lanka and begin to plan for the 2017 season they do so in the knowledge that they will be without the services of their two most experienced campaigners. The retirements of Kathryn White and Kari Carswell (nee Anderson) either side of the ICC Global Qualifier will be keenly felt both on and off the field as an era ends in Scottish cricket.
With a collection of caps second only to Carswell, White has been one of the most consistent performers for her country for the best part of two decades. In 132 appearances she scored 2165 runs at 20.62, with five fifties and a best of 99, and claimed 126 wickets at 22.02. It has been a career full of highlights and the decision to bring it to an end did not come easily.
“It was very difficult,” she said. “But I suppose I got to that point where I realised that having not been selected for Sri Lanka the time was right to make the call.
“I’m thirty-eight now, I have a four year old at home and I work full time, so I was trying to get that balance of full time job, family as well as putting in all my training and it reached that point where something had to give.
“It was hard. Cricket has been a huge part of my life for so long.”
Since her debut in 2000 White has watched the funding and profile of the women’s game change almost beyond recognition. The all-rounder has been part of the Scotland team from its very earliest days and she looks back over the evolution of the side with pride and considerable satisfaction.
“Both myself and Kari know where we started all those years ago, we know how few games we played and how few women were playing at the time,” she said.
“To see where we have got to now, to see the team and the set-up we have, the Under 17s coming up behind us, the regional squads and so on, and then watch us perform on the international scene as we have over recent years is very satisfying.
“In Scotland there is much more professionalism now. The support we get from Cricket Scotland has totally changed over the last five or six years in terms of the facilities that we use, how often we get to meet together and so on. We’ve now got our strength and conditioning coaches, we get help with travel allowances… It’s the things like that that make a huge difference.”
And although sad to no longer to be a part of it, White is excited at the prospect of how the team might continue to develop.
“I think we’re in a really strong position,” she said. “Yes, with 284 caps between us it is a loss losing myself and Kari so close together but there are plenty of girls coming up behind us.
“Abbi [Aitken] has already reached a hundred caps and most of the remaining squad are if not already past fifty caps then certainly nearing it. So there is a lot of experience there and there is a chance now for new people to step up to the plate and produce the goods too.”
As to the future, White will continue to be around the game she loves.
“I’m still going to be involved in cricket. I’d find it really difficult to move away from it totally,” she said.
“I was lucky to get an extra year out of what I could have. I had a potentially career ending injury eighteen months ago and I worked very hard to get back on the pitch. Cricket was so much of my life that when I was almost told that I wouldn’t play again I was determined to fight to get that opportunity again.
“I’m still going to be involved with the Scotland Under 17s as Assistant Coach/Manager. I do a lot of coaching myself down in the Borders, too, and I’ll still be playing club cricket.
“But I’ll miss the friends that you make. Some of the girls that I’ve had the opportunity to play with for Scotland and in club cricket I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, friends that I now have for life.
“Kari, for example, it was a huge decision for her to have to take as well. She has had a fantastic career and I’ve enjoyed every second of being on the pitch with her.
“I’ll miss it all, the team spirit and being together on the field representing your country. There’s really no better feeling.”
Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.