As England’s cricket team embark on their tour of India, two of our Leeds Alumni, Kate Cross and Alice Davidson-Richards, have received the honour of joining the squad. With only sixteen places there was strong competition for a position on the team.
During Kate’s time at Leeds, women’s cricket was still a social sport and so she took on the challenge of training with the Men’s MCCU. With her success playing county cricket, Kate gained one of the first full-time professional contracts for England. She proved her determination and commitment to the sport making her first ever debut for England back in 2013.
Former coach Rick Holland told us about Kate’s experience at Leeds:
“She was very much an individual excelling as the landscape of women’s cricket was changing, moving towards the professional era. Kate represented the University of Leeds Women’s Cricket Club and helped less experienced players. She acted as a role model showing what could be achieved with dedication and resilience.”
New talent was added to the England squad in the form of Alice Davidson-Richards who has recently been offered a contract with England. On her first ever call up to play internationally Alice will be making her debut along with two other uncapped players, Bryony Smith and Katie George.
Alice’s time playing cricket at Leeds gained support from a brand new programme. It aimed to draw the women’s cricket programme in line with the men’s, giving them equal opportunity to learn. She became part of the ‘Leeds Women’s Cricket Academy’ and began working with the best cricketers from the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett. Training over winter and working towards playing two friendly games against the MCC and Loughborough. Competing at a higher level allowed Alice to focus on training all year round and maintain her commitment. She gained valuable experience at Leeds which has translated into her professional career.
This scheme has developed over the years becoming the Leeds Bradford Women’s MCCU. This programme aims to give talented young cricketers the chance to receive top-level coaching. The girls now have more opportunities to compete at a high level whilst advancing their education. Players now compete for several major trophies each year including The BUCS Premier Final and The MCCU two day Championship. Many of the squad also perform with county teams. Here in Leeds, the programme has developed close links with the Yorkshire Diamonds whom Alice has represented.
As both Kate and Alice venture across the world, we wish them the greatest success. Playing against India and Australia’s elite will be a huge challenge but one which our Leeds girls can face. With their strength and determination, we are sure they will both go far and continue competing for England.