Women’s cricket has reached new heights in the recent past. However, a player from the past can narrate the efforts and the sincere hardships that have taken the game to the masses.
Recently, former Irish opener Clare Shillington interacted with Sportsound Extra Time and was pleased to see the game reach new audience and viewership. Shillington has been one of the veterans of the Irish female team. She retired in 2018 after a magnificent and incredible career that lived for 21 long years.
She, however, is not far from the game after serving it directly for more than two decades. She is nowadays active as a coach and plays an important role with the Irish youth teams. On her role with the Irish youth side, she tells that there are currently six girls within the Irish setting. They are, as of now, semi-professionals and have part-time contracts. She recalls her playing days and says that when her career started, women cricketers had at most three games in a calendar year.
These three games were only when they were lucky. In the present times, she feels that things have taken a turn for good. There are fantastic opportunities, as she feels, for the girls that chose to play cricket. She made her debut in 1997. She was just 16 in 1997. Interestingly, she and other players had to cover their travel expenses at those times. She adds that they had no membership in any gym.
Moreover, there was no special access to special staff that is now regular alongside players. Psychologists, nutritionists, and other companions were not heard off. She is actively involved with under-19 groups. She claims that there are great hope and loads of opportunities within the game. However, she feels that a great part of the recent advancements has been due to the funding.
She recalls that the funding and associated enhancements were not a part of her life when she started playing cricket. But she considers herself lucky to have seen and experienced the additions in the later phase of her career. She mentions that psychologists and other such supporters make small changes in the game of the player. These small percentages of changes are, according to her, important and significant.
For her nation, she was the first woman to feature in 100 T20 matches. She was, also the first Irish woman to score a century in the smallest format of the game. The lockdown has made the Irish cricket board cut wages and sending non-paying staff on leave. Shillington feels that sporting bodies will have a tough time ahead with big tournaments scheduled later in the calendar. She, although, has not been part of the senior set-up but indicates that a lot of the works are now done through online means.
She praises the Irish cricket board in times like these. She reveals that players are getting equipment to train in their homes. There is also a continuous communication with psychologists and nutritionist alongside other essential support staff. The working of a relatively limited cricket board in times like these and a veteran remembering her days and sharing the news that sees are treating for cricket fans.