WITH England going strong in their hunt for World Cup glory and men’s and women’s Ashes series being played on home soil, cricket-lovers are in their element this summer – none more so than Cookhill CC’s Matilda Hirst who revelled in the experience of training with the England Women’s team.
Seven-year-old Matilda, known as Tilly, was one of 11 young competition winners who enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime training session with the England squad at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough University.
The girls, aged seven to 11, won the unique opportunity to train with the team after entering the #HeathersPride competition, launched on International Women’s Day, by explaining why they deserved to spend the day with captain Heather Knight and her team-mates.
Tilly, whose dad Kenny is first team skipper at Cookhill, was among those to impress judges with her entry, which featured in the Standard last month.
The girls spent the morning meeting the England Women team and then training with their heroes at their final warm-up match against Australia A team before the Women’s Ashes began with the first one-day international at Leicester on Tuesday.
Knight said: “To see the smiles on their faces was incredible. This event was launched on International Women’s Day and it’s been a brilliant opportunity to witness and encourage the progress of women’s and girls’ cricket in this country.
“The girls’ enthusiasm for the game was infectious and it’s so nice to see how much it means to them. We really enjoyed spending time with them and it looked like they enjoyed the day as well.
“We are excited about the Ashes and, whilst winning games is incredibly important, we also want to inspire the next generation of girls to play cricket through our performance.
“I hope this will live long in the memory of the girls we’ve played with and encourage them to keep picking up a bat and ball and chasing their dreams.”