WORDS: Andy Mackie
IMAGES: Cricket Scotland
To many, the mere mention of cricket will conjure a quintessentially English image of white-clad gentlemen playing on a village green. Yet cricket has become the fastest growing participant sport among Scottish girls leading to Scotland winning a prestigious development award.
We spoke to Kari Carswell, 29, who as well as being Scotland’s leading female cricketer, has a full-time role as Cricket Scotland’s women’s manager. She has been a driving force behind winning the Best Women’s Development Programme at the Pepsi ICC Awards 2011. Carswell is justifiably delighted by the recognition saying: “It’s great to pick up the award. We are looking to push on and the biggest challenge now is to ensure that our programmes are sustainable and continuing to increase participation at all levels.”
So how did Scotland end up winning such an award ahead of more established cricketing nations?
For a start spreading the cricketing gospel is a lot more than a one-woman job and Carswell is quick to acknowledge the part played by schools in promoting the sport saying: “One of our biggest growth areas has been getting active schools co-ordinator’s to teach cricket to P5s, 6s and 7s. We see this as a vital partnership.” The Girl Guides are another organisation helping out, with 20 leaders now trained and provided with ideas of how to run cricket games and 309 guides participating in cricket last year.
Beyond this, Cricket Scotland has been quick to embrace new and exciting innovations to attract girls to the sport. The advent of T20 cricket has seen a worldwide explosion of interest in the game. For those unfamiliar with T20, it is a shortened version of cricket with the emphasis on fast paced action and colourful clothing. The effect has not been as great in Scotland as it has in places like India – where it is a multi-million pound business – but it has still made its mark.
Carswell acknowledges this and highlights other new forms of the game: “I think that it [T20] helps boost interest in cricket in Scotland in general not just the women’s game. Indoor sixes is another innovation that has helped. We are finding that it is a great way to introduce newcomers to the sport. It is a quick-paced game that only takes 45 minutes to play and gets everyone involved.”
The combination of such enthusiasm towards the game and the exciting nature of indoor cricket sixes seems a recipe for success. And when Carswell reveals that last year 14,000 girls participated in cricket all over Scotland the feeling is that maybe, just maybe, cricket could be winning an unlikely place in the hearts and minds of girls in Scotland.
Kari Carswell is Scotland’s most successful female player. Here are some facts about her international career.
1 Made her Scotland debut in 2000 against Northumberland
2 Has gone on to make 77 appearances
3 Highest Score –114 not out against Northumberland in 2008
4 Has scored a record 2015 runs at an average of 33.03
5 Best bowling figures – 5 wickets for 20 runs against Lancashire in 2011
6 She has taken a record 79 wickets at an average of 21.76