She never got the winter sunlight she had wished for, but that aside, for cricketer Kathryn Bryce, this has not been a bad year at all.
Scotland head coach Steven Knox claims that Bryce and her sister Sarah are both in the world-class group – a bold assertion, but one that recent events can quickly bring into context.
The ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] awarded the sisters regional contracts for 2021 – two of only 41 players to enjoy that status – and both were nominated for the ICC Women’s Associate Cricketer of the Decade, with Kathryn crowned the winner last weekend.
Both are ranked in their respective specialties in the ICC T20I rankings as the 13th best players in the world – Kathryn as an all-rounder and Sarah as a batswoman.
The prestigious Rachael Heyhoe Flint Cup, another useful learning experience, built on their good reputation last summer at Lightning Cricket.
“We were fortunate to play with many different international players in the English national game and last year against some of the best players from overseas,” Kathryn says.
The level of competitiveness was so high that, because you just want to keep progressing, it drives your success and training over the winter.
It drives your game because you know that against these foreign players, your margin for error is so limited. You’ve just got to be really concentrated. And you carry that experience with you when you come back to play for Scotland.
It’s an exciting thing to be part of the next step in women’s soccer growth. Growing up, I had to play for one of the top international teams if I decided to turn pro.
“Now to have that next level that girls can aspire to and realize that it’s actually possible to make cricket a career – even if it’s not quite at the top level – is a real inspiration.”
Last month, the Scotland captain was due to lead her country at the La Manga ground in two 50-over matches and three T20Is against Ireland, but had to wait at short notice due to problems with the Covid.
It is hoped that it will be made up in the spring, another date for both Bryce personally and the national team in what will hopefully be a busy 2021.
Tenth-placed Ireland in the ICC T20 world rankings are three positions ahead of Scotland and Bryce says he is ready to close the gap and take Scotland to the next level.
“In the last five years or so they’ve always been one step ahead of us,” the 23-year-old said.
“So we’re trying to keep up with them and get closer to that level as best we can. It’s exciting because in the team they have a few contracted players, which allows them the chance to practice more frequently.
That’s the goal for the future of Scottish cricket, to give players as much as possible a platform to play and practice together.
Hopefully, we will qualify for the World Cup one day. At the moment, that’s the main target. We’re really trying to get to the next level so that we can enjoy higher levels of more competitive games.
“And from that point on, you can really develop as a team. That’s when you start to get really recognized, when you’re at a World Cup and you’re competing with the best.”
Bryce is young to be the captain of the national team, but the Edinburgh-born player says that by her acts rather than her words, she encourages others.
She admits, “I’ve enjoyed being in charge and trying to take the team to the next level,” You just take it and move on when you’re younger. Over the past few years, I’ve certainly developed a lot as a captain and hope to continue improving in that role.
“In the middle, or in the locker room, I’m not the loudest. Instead of making some unique terms, I prefer to lead by my performances and lead by example. I certainly am not one to make huge speeches!
“But we have a lot going on next summer and a lot of opportunities. It will be good to just get everyone back together and playing again.”