The Highlands has always been a hub for cricketing talent.
And this again proven to be the case with three players selected in the Greater Illawarra CNSW Female Zone Academy Squad 2018.
Bowral Blues player Charlotte Menzies, Eliza Heinecke and Hilary Swan were all nominated by their club and after some trials, the girls found out in May they had been selected in the squad.
Eliza (batswoman and wicketkeeper) and Hilary (bowler) played in opposing under-14 sides over the 2-17/18 season, with both sides making the grand final.
“It was really good fun,” Eliza said.
Since being selected, the girls have trained in the Illawarra on weekends with the academy squad, going through drills and developing their skills.
Eliza said each of the training session was fairly extensive and had proved to be “really beneficial”.
She said there were lots of coaches on hand to help the players develop and their had also been guest coaches, with two NSW players recently involved in a training session.
“They had so much knowledge and we just got to talk to them and hear what they had to say. It was good to have the guest coaches [showing different] ways we can bat or bowl or keep. It was helpful to see another way to do things,” Hilary said.
“I’m hoping to broaden my abilities and improve on my batting.”
Hilary said she enjoyed being able to learn something new from each training session and hoped the program would help her progress in the game.
Meanwhile bowler Charlotte Menzies has been selected for the squad for the fifth year in a row.
The squad has provided Menzies with the opportunity to hone her performance and network with her fellow cricket players.
“It’s definitely a goal of mine to play professionally. The academy squad] provides a pathway,” she said.
When Menzies isn’t training or playing with the squad, she plays cricket in summer and receives cricket coaching from Brian Martin.
Martin has trained the likes of Australian cricket player Lauren Cheatle.
Menzie said she counted Cheatle among the cricketers she looked up to. “Seeing someone who has had the same opportunities, it’s inspiring to know I can follow in her footsteps and it is possible.”
She said players like Cheatle and Ellyse Perry were examples of the progress of women’s sport.
“Women’s sport has excelled, especially in cricket. All of the people playing for Australia didn’t have the opportunities we do now. Imagine how far we’ll come with these opportunities.”