Year 11 student, Jessica Smith, has been selected to represent Somerset under-17 Girls on a cricket tour to Sri Lanka in February 2018.
The tour includes a stay in Kandy in central Sri Lanka, followed by a week on the coast, south of the capital Colombo. The young cricketers will take in the culture of the island, visiting a tea factory and the sacred Buddhist Temple of the Tooth Relic, as well as playing five cricket matches against Sri Lankan teams, including one at an international venue.
The girls will benefit from experiencing different playing conditions, in 30-degree heat, with the opportunity to develop their skills playing against spin, for which their hosts are renowned.
Jessica, an all-rounder, bats at no.5, loves hitting boundaries, can bowl leg-spin or add variety with a swinging seamer, is athletic in the field and is also learning the art of wicketkeeping. Coached by Tom Baker all through primary school, she then played in the girls age-group squads at Bath Cricket Club and has represented Somerset since she was 11 years old.
This summer, Jessica was an invited guest-player for the Women’s MCC Team, a great honour which has inspired her to become an MCC player member in the future, to encourage women and girls’ cricket in the UK and internationally, promoting the spirit of cricket.
Joining the girls in Sri Lanka will be Sophie Luff, a great role model, who is not only one of the Somerset coaches, but also a Bath CC, Somerset and England Academy player, and a Western Storm Kia Super League Champion. Sophie is one of several inspirational female cricketers to play for Bath in recent years; the others include current England World Cup winners Anya Shrubsole and Fran Wilson, and Jan Godman, who won with England in 1993. Six of the 14-girl squad going on tour play club cricket at Bath CC, who are generously supporting them with a donation of £250 each, towards the £1,865 cost of the trip and playing kit.
Jessica commented: ‘ This fantastic opportunity will help to develop my cricket skills and experience the culture, food and friendliness of the Sri Lankans. I want to be able to adapt and improve my game to help me achieve all my cricketing and personal ambitions.’
To help raise money for the tour, Jessica will be car-washing, selling raffle tickets and helping to host a Sri Lankan themed curry night.