Jake Perry Reports
Two of the brightest stars in the Scottish game will be rubbing shoulders with the best in the world as participants in the 2017/18 Rebel Women’s Big Bash League Rookie Placement Programme. Sisters Kathryn and Sarah Bryce will head to Australia to take up two-week placements with WBBL franchises Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes in the third edition of the innovative joint venture between Cricket Australia and the ICC.
Each of the eight nominees is given the opportunity to experience women’s cricket at its very highest level, and with the added possibility of being called into the tournament itself in the event of an injury to a contracted player, too, the initiative opens up a unique window onto the elite world.
Both Kathryn and Sarah are looking forward to the experience.
“It was so exciting to get everything confirmed,” said Sarah. “It was unexpected for me at least and the family are very proud to have us both involved.”
“I’m really looking forward to visiting Tasmania,” she continued. “Being around such high-quality players and getting to see how they go about their training and everything else is really exciting.”
Whilst Sarah has been selected for the first time it will be a second trip in two years for Scotland vice-captain Kathryn, and the twenty year-old all-rounder is relishing the opportunity to be part of the programme once again.
“Having as much exposure as possible to that professional set-up helps my game a lot,” she said. “It is experience that I take back into my training and tournament play with Scotland.”
“[Last year] gave me an insight into the preparation and hard work that goes into cricket at this level. It’s not just what happens in games and in training, it’s the whole thought process that goes into it as well.”
Kathryn was placed with Melbourne Stars during the last campaign.
“I was given a bit of time to settle in then I fitted into all the training and gym schedules,” she said. “Last year I went along to watch some of the other WBBL games in Melbourne, too. The Renegades were playing as well as the Stars so I went and watched them and got to know a few of the girls, went out to dinner with them and so on.”
“I was living in the same hotel as other international players so I got to spend a lot of time with them as well. Just being in that environment and the routine of training, gym and everything else taught me a lot.”
“I had a couple of training sessions out on the MCG, too, which was fantastic. That outfield and the indoor nets are something else.”
“In Adelaide there is the main Adelaide Oval but I’m not entirely sure what facilities we’ll be using,” continued Kathryn. “But wherever it is it’ll just be good to be playing some outdoor cricket at this time of year!”
“I don’t know a huge amount about what it’s going to be like but I know the facilities and the coaches are going to be of a great standard,” added Sarah. “It will be interesting to see what resources they have and how they use them.”
The news crowns a memorable year for both players. As well as winning her fiftieth Scotland cap Kathryn scored 241 runs at 30.13 for Warwickshire in her first season in the Women’s County Championship, adding a 49-ball 73* in the T20 Championship for good measure.
Seventeen year-old Sarah also made great strides after taking over from Lorna Jack behind the stumps as both players helped Scotland to the ICC Women’s World T20 Global Qualifier.
“It’s been a really good season,” said Sarah. “Going to Sri Lanka at the beginning of the year for the [ICC Women’s World Cup] Qualifier and playing against teams like South Africa was incredible. Putting yourself up against those sorts of players was a challenge we all relished.”
“I think that having both Kathryn and me at the WBBL shows that the women’s game in Scotland is really on the up. In the past a couple of players were relied upon a lot whereas that’s definitely changing now. These days the whole team is contributing which says a lot about how we have progressed.”
“Speaking personally taking over the gloves has been great for me,” Sarah continued. “I’m just trying to keep improving all aspects of my game. Having Kathryn doing so well [has been an inspiration] and it’s nice to be able to follow in her footsteps to the WBBL this year.”
The end of the placement will not be the last Sarah sees of Australia this winter, either.
“I’ll be spending three months at the Perth Cricket Academy after the Big Bash so that will get me into a good routine of how to go about training and fitness and so on too.”
“The whole winter is going to be a great experience and both of us will be looking to bring back as much knowledge to Scotland as we can.”