CRICKET-MAD youngster Matilda Hirst is all smiles after being chosen as just one of 11 winners nationally to train with the England Women’s team.
The #HeathersPride competition – launched by England Women’s captain Heather Knight on International Women’s Day in March – invited young female cricket players and fans from across the country to win a training session with the England aces.
The competition was open to girls between the ages of seven and 11 who each had the opportunity to tell their county or England and Wales Cricket Board why they deserved the chance to take part via social media or email.
The regional #HeathersPride winners were chosen by each of the nine counties hosting England Women’s fixtures this summer and two winners were chosen by Knight herself.
The skipper was filmed at Lord’s announcing the lucky girls and seven-year-old Matilda, known as Tilly, was thrilled to receive the good news.
Tilly, who plays for Cookhill CC where her dad Kenny is first team captain, is now awaiting details of where and when the training session will take place.
The Standard has picked out some of the lines from her entry, which you can read below.
“My name is Tilly. I’m seven years old and play for Cookhill Cricket Club and I am CRICKET MAD! I have been playing cricket for a couple of years and first played at All Stars at Cookhill.
“My coaches Billy and Phil made it so much fun and I have been hooked ever since. I drag my dad out to the garden or local park to play with me and make him run after all the balls I hit. I really love hitting a six!
“I even stay for two hours after my training sessions to watch the older boys and my dad play and get some of the adult players to give me extra practice.
“I have played in the first ever all-girls team for Cookhill and even got in the paper and also captained the girls’ team despite being the youngest and smallest.
“I won the girls’ batting award because I scored more runs than any other girl last season and fingers crossed I can win it again this year. I love playing cricket and being with all my friends and I love going to watch my dad, although he says I’m already better than he is.”
The letter went on: “I know it’s not all about playing or training but it’s also about working hard together to improve the club. I go up to the club every spring and autumn to help sort the wicket or clubhouse out and Neil who cuts the grass and drives the roller calls me his little helper and says I do more work than most of the men!
“I would really like to play for England when I’m older. What a great job to play cricket with your friends. I watched you play at Worcester last year and really want to learn how to hit the ball like Tammy Beaumont, catch like Sarah Taylor, bowl like Anya Shrubsole and learn how to captain England from Heather Knight.”
Knight said: “I absolutely loved looking through the entries. There were so many girls who had tried really hard to show us why they should come and train with us.
“It really filled me with confidence about the future of women’s cricket in England and Wales and it was genuinely inspiring to see how much it means to all of them.
“I can’t wait to meet the winners and train with them. From some of the cricket on show in the videos, they might be able to help us out in the nets!”