Born on 10 October 1996, Dutch cricketer Heather Siegers has been appointed as a Captain for Netherlands Women's Cricket team. Her team will be seen competing in the upcoming T20 World Cup Qualifiers in Netherlands. Currently 21, Heather has also made it to the ICC Women's Global Development Squad - which brings young players an excellent opportunity to play and perform against competing members. They will play five matches against ECB Super League teams from 15-21 July. In an exclusive chat with Female Cricket, Siegers highlights her cricket journey.
1. Many congratulations on being selected in the ICC Women's Global Development Squad. How excited are you with the opportunity?
I am very honored to play with this team and exited to see how we measure up to KSL teams.
2. You are just 21 and has been selected to participate in the tournament. What was your reaction when you got to know about your selection in this squad?
It's always a good feeling when you get the announcement to play in such a great tournament, I was also very pleased that my sister got selected too.
3. Now let us go back and talk about your initial cricket days. What was your childhood cricket like? What drove you to cricket?
As a kid I played a lot of cricket with the boys, mostly with older kids since there wasn’t a lot of cricket opportunities in my age group. Now I have reached the point where I am one of the ‘oldies’ which is quite a strange feeling.
4. Who were your cricket role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
To be honest I didn’t start watching cricket until a few years ago, but my brother always showed me highlights of games. I recall admiring Chris Gayle at the time for hitting so many sixes without breaking a sweat, this has influenced my batting style, I want to make the game fun watching.
5. Back then how did you cope up with your studies / education / other commitments along with cricket?
Cricket was always my #1 priority, I revised or did my homework in the car on my way to training sessions and worked a bit at a local supermarket, mainly off season.
6. Walk us through your Netherlands cricket journey? When and how did this happen?
I played my first game for the full squad back in 2012 against Worcestershire in the ECB County Championship and have definitely come a long way since then. I’ve been very lucky to play against some great players and in International & county games across the world.
7. What was the general perception about women’s cricket in Netherlands when you started playing? How is it now?
Women's cricket is unfortunately still not looked upon as highly as it should be, there are still some who don’t respect the game, but there are an increasing number who very much do support it and back the Women’s team – both domestic ones and the International side.
8. Who would you credit the most for your journey so far and why?
I think my family have been a huge part of it, being willing to give up time to get me to games and training sessions, and being there through the ups and downs.
I thank the coaches I had when I started out, both at club level and in the KNCB Junior sides who’ve pushed me and helped me to progress.
9. Tell us more about the domestic structure in Netherlands cricket? How are the players selected in the national squad?
In the Netherlands we have a 40 over and a T20 competition which runs through the summer. We also have high performance teams at age group levels which help feed into the national setup. Selection for the national team is based on many factors but we are firm believers that a good attitude and dedication will get you far.
10. Tell us more about the current coaching staff, support staff and team administrators for Netherlands women’s cricket? How has their contribution helped Netherlands qualify for T20 global qualifiers?
We have a great coaching set up. Sean Trouw is our head coach and it’s been wonderful having him on board over the past few years. I feel as a team we’ve come a long way under him and his belief in us. Behind Sean we have Helmein Rambaldo (player/coach) and Sebastian Archbold (Manager) who are with us every step of the way.
11. Qualification in the T20 World Cup 2018 could be a major turning point for women’s cricket in Netherlands. What are your views on this?
Playing such an important tournament at home firstly will help to raise the profile of the game here and hopefully encourage more girls into the sport at grassroots level. Qualification will lead to so much potential for our game. With the ICC announcing that the WT20 will be televised this will help with getting more people interested.
12. Netherlands will now be locking horns with teams like Bangladesh, Ireland and Scotland in June 2018. How excited is the team to play against more experienced sides?
We’ve played Scotland a lot recently and games against them are great fun – we beat them in one of the T20’s in Scotland last year, however coming up against the likes of Ireland and Bangladesh will be wonderful. Being able to showcase our skills and talent against bigger sides such as them is great, and if we can pull off an upset or two then even better.
13. Against which team have you enjoyed playing the most and why?
Well having played a lot of games against the likes of Scotland & Ireland over my time in the team it is always good fun to come up against them again because of the friendships that developed having played together at junior levels and moving onto the full squads. However I think that I really enjoyed playing Ireland in Ireland because it was a completely new experience, the stakes were high and in the end it was a very good game.
14. A lot of aspiring female cricketers have asked us this question. What are the pathway / steps to playing for Netherlands national team?
As mentioned we have high performance teams at age group level and these form the basis of our pathway. We are working on our coaching program too to ensure that the girls get a good solid base and they progress at each age group level. We are also tackling our youth program for the crickets outside of the high performance group to show them that cricket is not a boring sport (stigma here in the Netherlands). We aim to keep developing our programs to ensure we produce good cricketers for the national squad.
15. Your views on Female Cricket as a platform?
I think any platform which is aiming to push Women's Cricket further into the public eye is wonderful. You do a great job of not only showing what happens at the top level of the game but also at associate level means that players are really getting recognized and the game as a whole can only grow as more and more people are made aware of what is happening worldwide. The ICC had a media Release today which included data taken from some Global Market Research and according to that 2/3s of cricket fans are interested in Women's Cricket and 70% want more coverage of Women's Cricket. As a platform Female Cricket does a wonderful job of helping to increase this coverage.