A YOUNG York cricketer is making strides in Australia after being picked to represent a landmark ladies team for Melbourne Cricket Club.
Rachel Hildreth, 18, from Poppleton, travelled down under on her gap year to coach cricket to school children in Melbourne but soon after arriving she spotted an advertisement to trial for the state’s inaugural ladies team.
Hildreth impressed and was asked to play for the state’s second team before they promoted her into their first team.
The Australian state has never had a ladies team despite their cricket club being founded more than 150 years ago in 1838 and regarded as Australia’s oldest sporting club.
“It surprised me for a club with such a huge name worldwide, how has it taken this long for them to produce a women’s side?” Hildreth said.
They have created a youthful squad in their first season playing in the Victorian Premier League and Hildreth has found herself as one of the squad’s older members.
“I have felt responsibility especially when I started and I was playing in the second team,” she said. “I was opening the batting and the bowling.”
Melbourne have also recruited two Sri Lankan international players, Sandamali Dolawatta and Michell Pereira, to join the set-up and Hildreth said she enjoyed playing with some of the best players in the world.
“Given we are a young side we have coped fairly well against some of the older teams,” Hildreth said. “Most of our girls have played at state level so there is often quite a large amount of competition.”
The York-based all-rounder made her Yorkshire debut earlier in the summer after a rise through the county’s junior set-up and has represented local teams including York Ladies, Pannal Ladies, Bradford Ladies and Rufforth men’s team.
She helped Yorkshire to reach the finals of the Twenty20 competition where Kent and Sussex defeated them in two close matches.
Her form carried all the way across the world to impress with the Melbourne second team and she scored 36 and 38 in her first two innings.
She soon found herself moved into the first 11 but on her debut she was bowled out for a golden duck.
“That’s been and gone. I just had to get my head on again and put it behind me,” she said.
“I’ll work on the advice I have been getting and hopefully I will start scoring runs again like I did in England.”
And Hildreth said she hopes to use the experience of playing on the harder tracks in Australia to press on throughout 2013 and staple down a place full-time in the Yorkshire team.
“I am quite an aggressive batter. I need to learn to slow it down and just play the ball around more,” she said.
“I need to loosen my bottom hand and not play so early. Given the ball has more bounce you have to wait for it a little longer.
“I’m hoping to improve my overall game with batting, bowling and fielding, especially the technical side.”