By Andy Tong
THE first girl to play cricket for Tunbridge Wells, Alice Davidson-Richards, saw all her hard work pay off in style as she was awarded her first England cap.
The 23-year-old all-rounder made her international debut for the World Cup winners in the Twenty20 Tri-Series in India, taking on the Australians in an eight-wicket victory in Mumbai on March 23.
Two days later she was again on the winning side as England beat the hosts by seven wickets. The series reaches its climax with the final on Saturday (March 31).
A right-handed batsman brought in by national coach Mark Robinson to provide ‘power down the order’, she also bowls right-arm fast-medium.
Alice, who grew up near the Nevill ground, was the first female member of Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club, arriving in 2002 at the age of seven.
At first she trained and played with the junior boys teams. The club formed a separate girls’ section in 2009 with significant support from the Brew House Hotel – now One Warwick Park – who were founder sponsors of girls’ cricket at the club. From an original group of 19, there are now close to 100 girls as well as a women’s team.
‘I definitely thought my time had passed me by. When I finished university it was like, what am I going to do with my life? No idea’
To add to the club’s lustre, Alice’s Tunbridge Wells team mate Izzy Cloke was selected for the England Women’s senior academy last year, and is awaiting her international call-up too.
Alice has represented Kent for eight years, winning the County Championship four times. She was appointed vice-captain in 2016, and was handed her England cap by her county captain Tammy Beaumont at the Brabourne Stadium.
She has also been playing for the Yorkshire Diamonds in the Kia Super League while studying for her degree in Human Physiology at the University of Leeds – she works as a personal trainer.
At the tender age of 15 she helped Kent win the Under-17 County Championship in 2010, making 72 not out and taking two wickets in the final against Sussex.
She then made her full Kent debut in a T20 match against Surrey, scoring 29 runs and picking up four wickets. The following season Kent won the Championship and the T20 Cup.
Now a regular in the England Academy side, she staked her claim for a senior debut with an unbeaten half-century and a wicket in a friendly against Ireland in April last year.
And Alice was named Player of the Match in front of the TV cameras at Headingley last season when she scored 22 not out and took 3 for 20 against arch rivals Lancashire Thunder.
But she has had to wait a long time for national recognition, and said: “I definitely thought my time had passed me by. When I finished university it was like, ‘what am I going to do with my life? No idea!’
“I went and played for six months in Australia, enjoyed the game again, which is the important thing for me. And from there it’s somehow got me to here.”
During the winter of 2016-17 she played a high standard of cricket at Grade One level in Sydney, representing University Women’s Cricket Club.
“It’s a really big step up,” Davidson-Richards admitted after her call-up for the India tour. “I like going back to work on a Monday. It brings me back to the centre.”