2016 was a busy year for Western Storm.
The team finished second in the inaugural Kia Super League whilst international commitments have seen many of the squad playing throughout the winter months.
We caught up with some of the players to see what they’ve been getting up to during the close-season.
Heather Knight (Western Storm & England Captain)
Heather captained the Storm to the final of the Kia Super League in 2016 and this winter led England to series wins in the West Indies and Sri Lanka. She was named in the ICC Team of the Year and also played a major role in the Hobart Hurricanes reaching the Women’s Big Bash semi-finals.
“This is my second year with the Hurricanes and I’m really enjoying my time out here again. The Women’s Big Bash has grown since its first year and hopefully the Kia Super League will do similar things in England this summer!
“Christmas in the sun was definitely a little different from normal. The non-Australian players had our own ‘orphan’ Christmas and we even managed to get out for our traditional Christmas day run as you can see from this picture!
“After the Women’s Big Bash, I’m off to Rwanda on the way home from Australia to link up with the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation. I’m a trustee for RCSF which is a charity committed to the building of a national cricket stadium in Kigali, Rwanda to help use cricket as a reconciliation tool within the country. It’s a project I’m proud to be supporting.”
Anya Shrubsole (Western Storm and England Vice Captain)
2016 once again saw Anya cement her place as one of the world’s finest bowlers. Her performances for England and Western Storm saw her named in the ICC Team of the Year. She was also the second highest wicket taker in the 2016 Kia Super League. Unfortunately injury has limited her time on the field during the close-season.
“This winter so far has been one of two halves for me! We headed out to the West Indies for a crucial tour and with qualification for the World Cup on the line we needed to have a good tour! In the end it was a very successful one for the team, winning 3-2 in some very challenging conditions but unfortunately it didn’t go well for me personally.
“A broken thumb, a side strain and the flare up of a previous neck problem meant that I left the West Indies early without making it on to the pitch. It was obviously a very difficult tour for me personally but it was amazing to see the girls perform so well.
“As a result of the neck injury I wasn’t fit to go on the final tour of the year to Sri Lanka but the girls again played brilliantly and got the final points we needed to qualify for the World Cup which will be held in England this summer.
“While the girls were in Sri Lanka it was time for me to try and get back to full fitness and recover from my neck problem. An injection cleared up the pain and then plenty of fitness work got my back ready to head out to Australia for the Big Bash. It was really important for me to try and put the last few months behind me and get back out on to the pitch and playing some cricket.
“I was a little bit late going out to the Big Bash because my younger sister Lauren got married. It was an absolutely amazing day and one I won’t ever forget. Family has always been the most important part of my life, so there was never a second thought about missing some cricket to be at my sister’s wedding. Thankfully, Perth Scorchers were kind enough to let me miss the games and join up late.
“As I write this our Big Bash campaign has one game to go. We have played some really good cricket and made it to the Big Bash finals. With our men’s team doing so well, it means we have a double header final with the men on Saturday. It will be an unforgettable day and hopefully we can come out on top.”
Fran was a key part of the Storm squad in 2016 and scored over 100 runs in the Kia Super League. She was rewarded for her strong performances by selection for England’s winter tour of Sri Lanka. She then traveled to New Zealand to join up with Storm teammate Rachel Priest at Wellington Blaze.
“My winter of cricket began in November with the England tour to Sri Lanka and a 4-0 series win. I then flew directly to New Zealand for my first season as an overseas player for the Wellington Blaze. The New Zealand domestic season is very competitive and the standard is high. The rivalry between players and teams is a real strength of the competition and it makes the cricket tough. This along with transitioning from the slow wickets in Sri Lanka to the faster seaming wickets in Wellington was a real challenge. I couldn’t buy a run at first!
“After having a bit of a nightmare start I worked on tightening up my defence to allow myself to bat late into the innings and accelerate once I am in. My highlight of the season to date is scoring 73 off 48 balls in a final over thriller.
“I’ve also had great opportunities to develop my coaching by working with the Wellington girls teams at their national tournaments. It’s been really interesting comparing the cricket set up in New Zealand and England and I feel there are lots of ideas I can now take back and use at home.”
Georgia scored 45 runs and took three wickets for the Storm in 2016. The highlight of the competition for her was when she struck the winning runs in the team’s first ever match against Lancashire Thunder at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton.
“I’m currently in Melbourne playing for Box Hill Cricket Club. I’m really enjoying my time playing out here and all the experiences that come with it. In my first game here I was lucky enough to bat with Meg Lanning. I hit a few myself (76*) but to be at the other end watching one of the world’s best players in action was an incredible start to my time Down Under.
“The cricket out here is really competitive and I’ve no doubt it will do my game the world of good ahead of the 2017 season. When I’ve not been playing, I’ve managed to watch loads of the Big Bash. The support that the competition gets out here is great and hopefully the Kia Super League will get a similar following this year.”
2017 promises to be a big year for Women’s Cricket.
The Kia Super League will return in the summer and the Western Storm will be looking to go one better than they did in 2016.
The ICC Women’s World Cup will be taking place in England too with the County Ground, Taunton hosting seven matches during the competition.
We will be keeping you up to date with all the very latest from the Western Storm throughout the year so make sure you don’t miss out on any of the news.