This winter has been a low key affair so far for the Irish women’s team. We have been doing some technical training concentrating on improving our technique, so there has been a lot of fielding and bowling machine practice.
We begin training in earnest at the end of January for our increased fixtures this summer. This is an exciting year for our cricket, because we are planning on increasing the amount of internationals we play year on year in the next three or four years. We hope that this increase in matches will help us gain more experience more quickly; I have been playing for Ireland for almost 10 years and have yet to even reach the 50 cap mark. Clare Shillington has been playing for two years longer than I have, and she only received her 50th cap in South Africa in February last year.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka are coming to Ireland in May-June 2009. I am personally very excited to play both countries for very different reasons. I have not played against Sri Lanka since I was 17 and playing in my first World Cup in New Zealand, and I am keen to see how they have improved. And, of course, I’m sure all of the girls will want to have another go at beating Pakistan after our terrible showing against them in the World Cup Qualifiers.
A first this summer will be the inclusion of an Irish side in the UK County Championships. I think the tournament will be a great opportunity to bring some younger and new players into the fold, give them a chance to show what they can do on a bigger stage, and maybe even get selected for some international matches. A lot of emphasis will be placed on the development squad this summer - they will play two sets of matches against English county sides.
Finally, my cricket New Year’s resolution. I am resolved make 2009 the beginning of a revival of women’s cricket in Ireland. We have girls with great talent and, at times, that shows through. Our problem is that we rarely pull together as a team - performing together - and our belief in ourselves has been lost. We have had a month break from cricket, and will be having another month off after Christmas.
I hope that after that break, the squad will come back together filled with ambition and belief. The team with players who will do anything for each other, who are selfless in their decisions and the way they play, and most of all the team that works together is the team that believes and ultimately wins. My resolution is to make the girls believe that we can and will start winning again, and very soon too.