Jake Perry reports
Scotland’s thrilling victories over Wales and Worcestershire in Division 2 of the ECB Twenty20 Championship crowned a day of particular significance for the game north of the border as Samantha Haggo and Lorna Jack became the fourth and fifth Scottish women to reach the landmark of a hundred caps for their country.
In the process of joining fellow centurions Kari Carswell, Kathryn White and Abbi Aitken the duo have become integral members of the national side, and as they look forward to Scotland’s first home fixtures since 2011 they also look back on their respective international journeys with considerable pleasure.
“I’m honoured and very proud to have played for my country for the last ten years,” said Jack.
“It’s been a long road with lots of injuries on the way but to finally reach a hundred caps is a real thrill.”
“When I saw Kari, Kathryn and Abbi reach that number I just thought, wow, that’s legendary status,” added all-rounder Haggo.
“I never thought I’d win that many. I’m absolutely delighted to have done so and it’s really special that Lorna and I were able to reach the milestone together.”
Adding to the symmetry of the occasion the 24 year olds made their national debuts on the same day, too, as both were selected as teenagers to play against Durham in July 2007.
“It was a bit of a dreich day at Sacriston,” remembered Haggo.
“My family all came down waving their Scotland flags. I batted at eight, got a duck and didn’t bowl so you couldn’t say it was the most memorable performance!
“I remember being so excited though. I was given a training top, we didn’t get the full tracksuit like the girls do nowadays, and when I got home I just didn’t want to take it off!”
“I got a cheeky wee nine not out going in at number nine,” said Jack. “We won the game too which was great.
“But it’s nice that after we made our debuts together Sam and I won our hundredth cap on the same day as well. It’s quite fitting.”
Both players agree that experience has brought with it a change in their outlook on the game.
“I would say that my temperament is a lot better now,” said Haggo. “When I was younger I struggled to get my emotions under control because I wanted to do well so badly.
“Over time, though, you learn to enjoy it more. It is a game after all.
“You play it because you enjoy it and I really enjoy being on the field with ten other girls who are also my friends.”
“I think my patience has evolved if anything,” said wicketkeeper Jack.
“As a young player everyone will tell you that I was a very hot-headed wee person. I still am a little bit but I think I have matured over the years. I used to get hung up on moments that didn’t really matter in the long run whereas now I won’t let my head go down.
“My skills are improving too,” she continued. “We’ve lost a few players through retirement and this season availability has been a bit unpredictable as many of the girls are establishing themselves in new jobs.
“I’ve been punted up the batting order as a result. The first time it happened I felt I had a nosebleed coming on! But I like the challenge and I’m quite happy to play that kind of role.
“I just try to go in and do whatever I need to do.”
The past decade has featured a variety of highlights for Scotland’s women, with league wins and appearances on the international stage the reward for increasingly consistent performances.
“Winning the ECB Division 3 in 2014 was really special. We had a great season that year,” said Haggo. “Speaking personally my first fifty for Scotland stands out too, especially as I’ve not had too many since,” she laughed.
“But getting the opportunity to go to the World Cup Qualifiers in Bangkok and Sri Lanka was very special. Obviously the results weren’t quite what we wanted but for the team to get to play on the world stage was a real buzz.”
“Those competitions were amazing,” agreed Jack. “It was brilliant to play in that kind of atmosphere and finishing fourth in Thailand was a massive achievement for us.
“Whitewashing Holland last year to get to Sri Lanka was another high point as we’d never done that before. I had also played against most of that team as an Under 17 so it was good to see how we had advanced since those days.
“Catching Charlotte Edwards [against Hampshire] is a moment that has stood out this season,” she smiled. “Katie McGill bowled, Charlotte nicked it and I caught it. Not a bad wicket!”
For now, though, attention is focused on Scotland’s upcoming matches. After playing Ireland at MacKays Forthill for the Celtic Cup at the beginning of August Steve Knox’s side take on the Netherlands and USA in the ICC World Cup European/Americas Qualifier in Stirling.
“We’ve not really hosted Ireland for a series before so this is a fantastic opportunity,” said Haggo.
“Ireland are probably a step above us so it will be good to see if we’ve improved since we last played them in Dubai last January.
“It’s important that we don’t think about the opposition too much, though. Sometimes there is a danger of playing against a particular player rather than focusing on the ball you’re facing or the ball you are about to deliver.
“As long as we do the basics well and control what we can control then I know we’ve got the skills to perform and get the results we want.
“The experience of Thailand and Sri Lanka has helped the team massively,” she continued. “Playing against teams like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Pakistan lets us see where we are and gives us something to aspire to.
“We want as many opportunities to play at this level as we can get because they are so important for how we develop in the future.”
Scotland has the chance to reach the same stage again through the ICC Qualifier and as they prepare for the task ahead both players are excited that the team has the opportunity to showcase its skills on home soil once more.
“It’s so good to be playing in Scotland and at Stirling too because that’s where I play my club cricket,” said Jack. “We haven’t played at home for a long time so it will be amazing.
“The Qualifier is going to be an exciting series. We know the Dutch very well but we have never seen the USA side before which will make it very interesting.
“But we are confident that we are a good team with some very good players. We know our skills are there, it’s just a matter of us showing them on the day.”
“Whenever we go down south people squint at the Cricket Scotland badge and say that they didn’t know Scotland had a cricket team, never mind a women’s cricket team,” added Haggo.
“Hopefully this will raise a little more awareness of what we do and, who knows, maybe inspire some more girls to get involved in cricket too. That would be brilliant.”
Reproduced by permission of Cricket Scotland
Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.