(With thanks to Cricket Scotland for these photographs.)
On Friday current S4 pupil Katherine Fraser will set off with the senior Scotland women’s cricket squad bound for Ireland.
Under new Head Coach, Mark Coles, they will be playing their first international matches for a long time with four T20I games due to be played against the hosts in Belfast on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
And Katherine, who only turned 16 in April, is looking forward to building on a positive start to her fledgling international career which she made when she was just 14 back in 2019 before the pandemic.
“Coming off my first season with the Scotland team in 2019, I was excited ahead of 2020 to see how things would go, but obviously we never managed to play any matches,” she explains.
“I learned a lot about what it takes to play at a senior level two years ago and when cricket was halted last year, I was determined to keep myself as fit and as motivated as I could.
“I undertook strength and running sessions during the week last summer and was also playing a bit of cricket in the back garden with my parents which quickly became quite competitive!
“As a Scotland squad we also had a lot of virtual catch-ups which were nice, but having played cricket pretty solidly over the last few years it did feel weird not doing the same again.
“Since restrictions began to ease earlier this year, we have been back training as much as we can, a lot of it being at Cricket Scotland headquarters within the MES grounds.
“We had a series in Spain which was cancelled, but now we have these upcoming Ireland games to look forward to and I can’t wait to get stuck into some competitive matches again.
“It will also be good to play for the first time under our new Head Coach who I am enjoying working with and learning from already.”
Having previously attended Pentland Primary School, Katherine joined The Mary Erskine School in S1 and has enjoyed her time at the school to date.
“I had played a bit of rugby at primary school, but by the time I got to MES I was already pretty focused on my cricket and it has been really exciting to see the sport grow at the school in the last few years,” the off spin bowler, who plays her club cricket at Stewart’s Melville CC, explains.
“Staff at the school have also been really understanding as my cricket commitments have increased over the years and they have helped me balance my school work with my sport."
“That has really helped me stay focused and that support is invaluable to me.”
As Katherine mentioned, girls cricket at The Mary Erskine School is growing all the time under the watchful eye of staff member Caroline Heron.
Katherine helps out with coaching at the school, leading junior and senior sessions while demonstrating skills and supporting her peers.
“She is super encouraging and very approachable to all pupils,” Caroline states.
“As a result, with her involvement we believe we have other girls who have now invested in the sport after having seen the success that Katherine has had.
“Her support and encouragement of the S1 and S2 girls has been such that those girls now feel empowered to help those in primary school.
Cricket is unique in that it is seen as a community. We give lots of opportunities for girls to play and there is a clear pathway from grassroots to performance, from school to club and also to teams in the Cricket Scotland set-up.”
There are currently 120 girls in P5-7 taking part in cricket sessions while the P6 and P7s play in fixtures against schools across Edinburgh when it is safe and in non-covid times the school runs a softball festival.
In the senior school, softball cricket runs over the winter indoors and in the summer there are softball and hardball sessions offered to all girls in S1 to S6.
Everyone wishes Katherine and her Scotland team mates all the best in Ireland!
By Gary Heatly