Three girls from South Tyneside are hitting tradition for six at cricket.
Over the past decade, the sport has begun to attract more and more girls and it’s a trend Marsden Cricket Club in South Shields is keen to promote as the countdown to the 2017 season gets underway.
The club, based at Jack Clark Park, South Shields, has over the years produced a number of top players who have gone on to play professional cricket both in the UK and abroad.
Now, Lucy Hughes and Rebecca Price, both 12, and Lauren Tooley, 13, have taken their first steps in following in the footsteps of those before them, including head coach Chris Mann and player Sarah Burden, after being chosen to represent Durham County Cricket Club.
The girls, who will take their places in the under 13s and under 15s team respectively, are now looking forward to the start of the season and hope their achievements will encourage other girls to come forward.
Lucy, who hopes to follow in the footsteps of Durham-born player Danielle Hazell who went on to captain England last year in a Women’s One Day International against India, said: “I came to Marsden two years ago and they put me forward to Durham, the game is definitely a lot harder at county level but it’s enjoyable.
Being chosen to represent the county is such a great opportunity for them and if they continue to play, it can lead them onto professional contracts, and even chances to play abroad.Ryan Little
“There’s not many girls who play the sport so I’d like to see more girls getting involved.”
Rebecca said: “I haven’t been playing cricket that long. It’s really enjoyable. Even though I think I will probably want another career, I’d still like to carry on playing cricket for as long as I can.”
Lucy, has been described as an “outstanding bowler” by Durham while Rebecca impressed development officers with her batting skills. Both were chosen for the Under 13 squad after attending a three-week trial.
Lauren who has played for Durham previously, said: “Everyone is really nice, but cricket is a very competitive game. You always go into games with the intention of winning.”
Women have been playing cricket since the 1930s – however, it is only in the last few years the ECB took the decision to invest in the women’s game providing central contracts for international players. This has led to a huge push in trying to encourage more girls and women to take up the sport.
Marsden Coach Ryan Little said: “For the girls to be chosen to represent Durham at such a young age, is not only great for them but great for the club.
“It helps to improve their confidence, but also shows them, what they are doing here at the club, is helping to push them in the right direction, especially if they want to make a career out of it.
“It is such a big thing they have achieved. They are following in the footsteps of a lot of our players, who have played at junior and academy county level, right upto our head coach Chris Mann, who has played a lot of first team cricket for Durham and is now playing in Australia.”
Darren Brown, Women and Girls Development Officer at Durham County Cricket Board said: “Lucy and Rebecca were recently selected for the County U13 Squad, coming through our most attended trial to date. They were very good to make it through the competition - Lucy is an outstanding bowler, while Rebecca impressed with her batting.
“It’s incredible to see young girls playing cricket - girls’ cricket is something that we, at the Board, put a huge priority on, and having 38 girls at our county trials was extraordinary. So Lucy and Rebecca deserve every praise for making the squad.
“We have known Lauren for a while now - she has been in the county squad system for two years now, having played for the U13s and will be playing for our U15 County Girls in the coming season. She has shown an incredible commitment to the sport - attending all of her county sessions. She works really hard and it’s brilliant to see that sort of determination in someone so young.
“Girls’ cricket is our focus this year and we’re planning a lot for the players so the girls will be involved in a great season. I’m sure they’ll leave their mark.”