Saturday , September 30 2023

Margaret Fraser: Shafali Verma and the Under-19 Women’s World Cup: Teenage Scotland star

Scotland’s opening match against UAE on Saturday in the inaugural U19 Women’s World Cup will mark Katherine Fraser’s latest chapter in an already impressive tale.

At the age of 14, Fraser made her debut abroad. The Edinburgh schoolgirl is now her country’s top wicket-taker in T20 internationals three years later, taking 39 wickets in 31 matches at an impressive average of 13.15.

The 17-year-old is now trusted to lead Scotland’s top junior players in South Africa.

After Saturday’s opening match, Scotland will face off against hosts South Africa and India in a tough group. However, they will back themselves to finish in the top three and advance to the next phase of the competition.

They qualified by crushing the Netherlands in August and then beating the United States by 45 runs in a warm-up game on Monday. Fraser scored 19 runs with the bat and took 3-7 runs with the ball to win.

Fraser stated to BBC Sport Scotland, “Our main goal is to get out of the group stage.”

“We know there will be some good players, but because it is an underage tournament, so little is known about many of them.

“We’ll take it as it comes, but we want to demonstrate our abilities and be our best.” We are there to play our particular style of cricket. We really want to test these players and be tested in turn.”

Despite her accomplishments at the senior international level, Fraser is enjoying leading Scotland’s junior team.

She continued, “There’s a lot more to think about with that leadership element.”

“You really need to be in charge of everything. Ailsa Lister and Olivia Bell, fellow Scotland caps, will assist me because I have a strong group around me.

“I want to put in good performances and help the team; as captain, you really want to lead from the front.”

At the under-19 level, there are particular obstacles to take into account. Most of Scotland’s crew are still understudies and will have stuffed course books close by their bats and protective caps for this excursion.

This year, Fraser is preparing for her advanced higher education, and she made fun of the idea of starting a homework club in South Africa.

However, Scotland’s young captain is most interested in one particular on-field test. Fraser did not hesitate when asked which wicket she would most like to take over the next month or so: Shafali Verma has to be it, doesn’t it?

“We’ll see how that goes; I’m sure that many team members will want that one,”

Verma, India’s effervescent opening batter, has played 74 times for the senior team. Since she made her debut in 2019, she has batted with a fearlessness that only youth can provide. She has beaten some of the best bowlers in the world.

However, considering that Fraser has a career strike rate of 15.1 in T20 internationals, it is hard to imagine her not getting that coveted victory.

I’d love to work in cricket.

Fraser is getting more and more used to meeting the best people in the world.

As part of a stint with the Northern Superchargers in the Hundred this past summer, she participated in training with South African Laura Wolvaardt and Australian Alyssa Healy.

She stated, “It was really interesting to see what those players at the top level do and how they go about their business.” That really inspired me.”

There is now a clear path, even in Scotland, for female cricketers to play professionally. Up until very recently, this was simply not an option. There are female Scottish cricketers to emulate and examples to follow.

Abtaha Maqsood, Kathryn and Sarah Bryce, and the Bryce sisters all have contracts with the Hundred. Sarah was a member of the Oval Invincibles team that won the competition in 2021.

Leigh Kasparek, who was born in Edinburgh, went on to have a hugely successful international career with New Zealand. Kirstie Gordon got a cap for England after leaving the Scotland team.

In a move toward professionalism, Cricket Scotland recently announced that it will offer paid contracts to the women’s team for the first time.

The extent of the change can be seen in an interview that Fraser gave just before she made her Scotland debut.

In 2019, Fraser told the BBC, “When I’m older, I’d like to go down the path of science or engineering.”

“I’m sure I’ll be able to keep a work-life balance and cricket in the future.” “I really enjoy my cricket and I’m able to balance that with school.”

However, when questioned about her plans for the future, Fraser responded, ” Definitely. I hope to attend college in the south, where I will have the opportunity to participate in the regional setup at the academy or Rachel Hayhoe Flint level. I’d love to pursue that as a career.

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