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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Haverigg and Ulverston cricket girls head to UAE

TWO immensely talented teenage cricketers are heading to the heat of the Middle East to compete in a major six-day tournament.

It promises to be exciting times ahead for both Georgia Holmes, of Haverigg, and Laura Marshall, from Ulverston, who will both play overseas for the first time.

The girls will be in different teams but share one thing in common – both want to represent England at senior level one day.

Fast bowler Holmes, 16, plays her cricket for Haverigg, and will represent the MCC’s England under-19s development squad, while all-rounder Marshall, 19, who plays for Lindal, will showcase her skills for Lancashire under-19s.

Both players have undergone intensive practice and have been getting acclimatised to the weather conditions in the build-up to the first under-19s women’s Arch Trophy, which takes place in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and runs from Monday to Saturday.

Temperatures were turned up at both Loughborough, where Georgia has been training, and Old Trafford for the Lancashire youngsters in preparation for a tournament which sees eight teams compete, split into two groups of four. It is the first time in the MCC’s 226-year history that the famous old club will have fielded an age group women’s side, with Holmes being called-up having impressed selectors with her performances for Cumbria CCC during the 2012 county season.

During the tournament Holmes, part of a 14-strong squad, could feature in three 50-overs-a-side group matches against Durham, Devon and Essex women’s U19s, while Laura is due to face Sussex, Wales and Scotland.

The final will take place at the Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Holmes’ talent was spotted as a eight-year-old while playing kwik cricket and she has been involved in the England set-up for two years.

Asked about her selection the Millom School Year 11 pupil said: “I am over the moon, it’s going to be good. I can’t wait.

“I was nervous at first, but it’s good now that I know everyone.”

Holmes was attracted to the sport after going to Haverigg’s Poolside ground with brother Niall.

“I just went to one of the training sessions and I just enjoyed it, and it went from there,” she said. “I used to play football, but cricket overtook it.”

Asked about her bowling, the exciting prospect said: “I’ve never been clocked, but I’m pretty quick.”

Graeme Bickerstaffe, the junior co-ordinator and coach at Haverigg, spotted the outstanding youngster’s talent at an early age.

He said: “You don’t get to the level Georgia’s at now in terms of girls’ cricket without being good.

“There has been a massive increase in female cricket over the last few years and therefore a lot more people playing, and for Georgia to be recognised at that level nationwide, she has obviously got a lot of talent.

“She has a good bowling action, she bowls good away swingers and good inswingers and at a reasonable pace for a 16-year-old girl.”

Bickerstaffe added: “I think she will do very well indeed. I am looking forward to hearing how she does. I am expecting her to hold her own. She is still learning of course at that level and still improving.”

MCC head of cricket, John Stephenson, said: “Congratulations to Georgia on her selection for the MCC under-19s women’s squad.”

ECB head of women’s cricket, Clare Connor, said: “Georgia had an impressive season last year and caught the attention of our talent scouts as being a high potential player with an exciting future.”

Hard-hitting batsman Marshall, has been putting in the hours on her bowling after dealing with a back injury, and is hoping to spearhead the Lancashire attack.

The Lancaster and Morecambe college student, who is studying sports culture and fitness, said: “We are all very excited now.

“We have one night match, where we play under floodlights which will be a new experience for all of us.”

Asked about her dream of one day representing England at a senior level, she said: “I would love to do that. I would love to get to the England standard, I would love to play for the one-day team.”

Alastair McDougall, cricket development officer for Barrow and Copeland, and a Lindal Moor CC stalwart, said earlier of Marshall: “Potentially she’s very good, she’s got great hand-to-eye coordination. She times the ball exceptionally well and hits the ball as hard as any of the men.”

Marshall is also taking her cricket coaching badges and is halfway through her level two course.

She raised £1,500 to go towards the tour and would like to thank Furness Cancer support group, family and friends, Rumic, Lindal Cricket Club and owner Bridget and all the regulars at the Britannia Inn, Barrow, who have supported her.

l West Indies’ win over Australia yesterday ended England’s hopes of reaching the Women’s World Cup final.

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