Elena Tice pleased with international debut at 13
There has been plenty of news about the strides being made by Ireland's men's team in recent years, but there have also been positive developments in their women's game. With an eye on the future, Ireland women fielded Elena Tice, the second youngest cricketer ever to play in an official ODI or Twenty20 international, in their games against Netherlands two weeks ago.
The youngest ever debutant is Pakistan's Sajjida Shah of Pakistan, who debuted aged just 12 years and 271 days against Ireland in July 2000. Tice made her own international debut aged 13 years and 272 days in the Twenty20 match at the Kampong ground in Utrecht on August 15, and played her first ODI at the same venue two days later. A legspinner, Tice contributed to a win in her first Twenty20 by taking 3 for 22, and fared even better in her third match, picking up 3 for 12 as Ireland won by 13 runs.
"To be honest it was a relief to get off the mark," Tice said. "I even surprised myself. I was more just hoping to survive without being hit round the park, so the wickets were a real bonus.
"I was introduced to cricket at a very young age, spending endless hours in the garden bowling to my dad and my two older brothers," said Tice, who was born in Basingstoke, Hampshire. Her family moved from Hampshire to Indianapolis in the US when Tice was four. There she picked up baseball, and when she was six the family moved to Vienna, where she began to play cricket.
"My brothers and my dad always encouraged me to play. When I was six years old, I lived in Vienna for three years, where I played for the Austria Cricket Club. I had a great Sri Lankan coach there called Siva Nadarajah. Both Siva and my dad taught me how to play and that is where the interest really started. I moved back to Ireland when I was nine and attended Aravon School, where my enthusiastic headmaster, Kevin Allwright, brought me on in school cricket and introduced me to Merrion Cricket Club, where I now play all my club cricket."
Tice's older brother, Patrick, is a wicketkeeper and part of Ireland's Under-19 set-up, and the two often played in the same team until the family moved back to Ireland. Tice only took up legspin full time at the beginning of 2011 season after a winter spent practicing the art against her brother in the corridors of the family home.
"Up until the beginning of this season, I bowled medium-pace. However, I was suddenly converted to legspin when I realised I was better at it. I had practised it a little bit in the corridor of my house in the winter months with my brother. Mind you, all my coaches always told me it was a terrible idea but eventually I convinced them otherwise, after joking around in the net when they realised I was kind of good at it. I have had to work hard this season in club cricket but everyone has been really supportive."
Tice found the transition to international cricket relatively smooth, and counted on support from inside the team and from her family off the pitch. "In spite of being the youngest, they were all really nice to me and it didn't take me long to settle in. Everyone has been really supportive, especially my coaches, in both the club and Irish squad, who have really worked hard with me. No one has ever made me feel too young to do it.
"My core strengths are definitely my parents, in that they drive me miles to endless cricket grounds. They are really supportive and they are amazing to me. I also take great enjoyment out of the game and the people I play it with."