The talk of the town at the moment is the Men’s Ashes series which starts tonight (Australian time). However, did you know that the Women’s Ashes is also played this month? The series kicks off on July 21 in the UK. For the Southern Stars, ODI and T20 cricket is the most common form of the game; however, the Ashes works on a points system and includes one Test match. It could provide an opportunity for three in the squad– Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton and Jess Jonassen – to make their Test debuts.
For Beams, inclusion in the squad follows a very successful period of her career. She had an excellent domestic summer of cricket which culminated in being named in both the ACA WNCL and WT20 All Star Teams of the Year. The leg-spinner also made her debut for Australia against Pakistan in 2014, and took 1/26 off her first 9 ODI overs. She has gone on to play 6 international ODIs and 6 WT20 internationals, including taking 3/16 off 4 overs against the West Indies – a performance ranked in the top 20 of all time in the women’s game.
The road to success has been long, and Beams has had to make some difficult decisions along the way. She grew up in northern Tasmania and played cricket at an underage representative level for that state. At the time, there was no Tasmanian Roar team, and so there was no established pathway for Beams at home.
To further her chances of playing cricket at the elite level, Beams initially started playing for the Essendon Maribyrnong Park Ladies CC whilst still living and working in Tasmania. With opportunities increasing, she made the permanent move to Victoria and was rewarded when she gained a rookie contract with VicSpirit in 2006.
Beams has not only played cricket at the highest levels; she has also held a number of roles in administration, both in Tasmania and now in Victoria where she works for the Australian Cricketers’ Association. She is well placed to offer some insights into the game, and I was lucky enough to catch up with her recently to chat about her recent selection, and ask a few questions about the lessons she has learned so far in her career.
Congratulations on your selection in the Ashes squad. How does it feel?
KB: Honestly, pretty surreal…. As a kid you dream about playing cricket for your country, to get an opportunity to play in an Ashes series is really exciting.
Who is the toughest opponent you have faced? Why?
KB: England will no doubt be our toughest opponent, that’s what makes this series so exciting!
For me personally, I go head to head with my toughest opponents nearly every week bowling to the likes of Lanning, Villani, Cameron and Bolton. But I think that’s what makes you better, they are all so different in how they play but each as attacking as one another – I enjoy the battle!
What does a normal week’s training look like for you?
KB: My weeks are pretty fluid based on what training camps we have on. I work 3 days a week so I get in fitness/ skills sessions either before work or in my lunch break on those days. We have VicSpirit training 2 nights a week and I have two ‘cricket and uni’ days in my week. I like to bowl 5 times per week and work off 2 gym and 2-3 running sessions a week.
You’ve made a few half centuries in grade cricket; do you think your batting is underrated?
KB: I’d say I’m realistic about my batting…. I work with what I have and try and play a role when I’m needed. I really enjoy batting but I’m not sure many people would call me an all rounder J
You made the move from Tasmania to Victoria a while ago now – was that a difficult decision at the time?
KB: Yes, the unknown made it really difficult. I went to Victoria to find out whether I was good enough to play in the WNCL. I genuinely didn’t know whether I was, but I didn’t want any regrets. It was hard to leave, I was working at Cricket Tasmania and I wanted to play for Tasmania but we just didn’t know if it was going to happen so I made a tough call. It turned out to be the right one.
Who were your sporting heroes as a youngster?
KB: David Boon, Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne… I was really lucky enough to work with David Boon when I worked at Cricket Tasmania. I learnt a lot both professionally and as a cricketer.
You’ve been playing cricket at a representative level since you were 12. How has the women’s game changed over the course of your career?
KB: The game has changed a lot as has the men’s game, T20 cricket has made the game more attacking and we are seeing bigger scores. The women’s game is more professional and well supported, there is no doubt that will continue to grow.
What advice would you give a young female cricketer?
KB: Know what you want, work hard and smile – anything is possible.
I was never the most talented player, but what I lacked in talent I made up for in determination.
All the best to Beams in the upcoming Ashes series – despite her protestations, she is certainly a very talented player. But, she has also worked hard to create opportunities and has to make some tough decisions in her commitment to the sport. Hopefully more opportunities come her way in the upcoming series – no doubt there will be many in both Tasmania and Victoria cheering her on!