ENGLAND cricketer Kate Cross is back in Walshaw after a month-long Ashes tour she describes as an “unforgettable experience”.
The 22-year-old bowler helped the women’s team retain the Ashes with a series win over their Aussie counterparts, playing in all three formats of the game.
But it was her performance on her Test debut in the first meeting of the sides in Perth that was her standout memory.
Cross took six wickets in the four-day match at the WACA that earned England six points and a foothold in the series.
She was even on a hat-trick at one point, admitting she did not realise at the time such was her focus on making sure her bowling line and length remained true.
Three wickets in each innings helped England to victory and made it a memorable first Test for the daughter of former Bury forward David Cross.
Just a day after returning home, she told Bury Times: “It has been my favourite tour of all the ones I have been on at amateur level right through to international.
“To play in the Ashes and then to make my Test debut at the WACA was special.
“I was delighted just to be out there with the girls but when I did not bat in a warm-up game, I thought I would not make the Test side.
“I was shocked when I did and it was a really proud moment to get my international cap just before the game.
“We knew that would be important because it was the only test and six points were up for grabs.
“The Ashes is the only series where we play a Test match so it was fantastic to be involved and it suits my game as I like to bowl in one area consistently and you can do that when you have as many as 18 overs like I did.”
It contrast to the men’s dismal tour showing, the England women’s team had a Test match that enthralled onlookers from both sides as it swung one way and then the other before England secured a memorable win.
And while Cross admits you do not appreciate how exciting it is when you are out there involved, it soon dawned on her when she picked up texts from friends and family watching back in Bury.
She added: “I didn’t realise I was on a hat-trick – I was just focusing on the game and making sure I bowled in the right areas.
“The temperature on the day we were fielding reached 50C and it was seriously demanding.
“When we won, we went out for a few drinks but I was back at the hotel room by 9pm – I was just drained and emotional.”
After the test victory, England won the first of three one-day internationals to put them on the brink of the 10 points they needed.
Cross was meant to head home after those three one-day matches but an injury to Katherine Brunt saw her stay on for the Twenty20 matches.
And when England won the first of those, their series triumph was sealed.
Cross said: “It was exciting to stay for the full tour and a perfect opportunity for me to play in all formats.
“You never want to see any team-mate injured but it meant I stayed on and was there when we won the Ashes which I would have missed if I had returned home.
“It was so emotional and special to be there and enjoy those celebrations with my team-mates.”
Playing in the T20 matches meant taking to the field before the men’s teams at the likes of Melbourne and Sydney.
And while the crowds were fewer in number, there were some members of the famous Barmy Army who were in attandance to support the women’s team.
“Though there weren’t as many people there, it was fantastic to play in famous grounds like the MCG,” Cross said.
“Some of the Barmy Army were there including Jimmy (Vic Flowers) who is one of the main song leaders and there were around 2,000 at the game in Sydney.
“Hopefully, the interest back home will increase and we can start to play in front of even bigger crowds “I think we have shown it can be just as exciting as the men’s game.”
The next date in Cross’s diary is a trip to the World Cup in Bangladesh next month.