GLOUCESTERSHIRE Women are putting their faith in youth this season with a number of promising young players set to make the breakthrough into senior county cricket.
Led by captain Charlie Walker – who at just 23 is the oldest player – the team kicked off their Division Three County Championship campaign with a win over Oxfordshire.
The 25-run victory saw a debut for 14-year-old Alice Hill (Hatherley and Reddings) and impressive displays from Cirencester seamer Eve Alder and Mollie Robbins (Bristol Phoenix), who are both 15.
Hill is among five Gloucestershire girls who have been put forward for England talent detection days after impressing their county coaches.
Danielle Gibson (Dumbleton), Naima Milhofer (Downend) and Natasha Wraith (Frenchay) – who are all under-13 - took part in a day at the ECB’s National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough on Sunday May 11. Hill and Ellie Wookey (Bristol Phoenix) – both 14 - will join some of the other best players in the country there this Sunday.
The youngsters – who are all on Gloucestershire’s first girls Emerging Players Programme (EPP) – will hope to emulate Alder, who has been in the England Under-15 Development programme for the last two years.
All-rounder Alex Macdonald (Bristol Phoenix) also achieved national recognition this winter when she toured Sri Lanka with the England Women’s Academy Squad.
Gloucestershire senior women’s coach Lisa Pagett – who also led the EPP sessions – feels the fact that Gloucestershire's players have started to push for places in England squads showed the growing strength of the women and girls game in the county.
She said: “The girls who have been put forward for the England talent detection days have all shown real potential and hopefully they can follow in the footsteps of Eve and Alex.
“The group who are now aged around 14 have come to the game at time when there are a lot of opportunities on offer. They have received more support and coaching than the generations that have gone before them and as a result it is no surprise that these girls are pushing for places in our senior team at a much earlier age. If this group continue to progress we will have a really strong side in four to five years’ time.”