Cricket Belgium’s Ladies joins the first women’s Pan-European indoor training session

By Sue Parker and Christina Dziewanska-Stringer

The tour started in Brussels airport on Friday afternoon – Nicky, Zara, Corrie, Christina and Sue all making their way to the Indoor Training event in Munich. Due to very strong tail wind, we arrived earlier than expected, albeit with a few additional grey hairs and shaky hands (especially those with a fear of flying). Upon arrival at the airport some serious bonding was done at the first nice restaurant we could find- helped by some good brew and chewy meat. We had almost forgotten why we came to Munich in the first place!

Saturday morning, and not feeling too bad due to the natural qualities of German beer, we made our way to meet our fellow cricketers from Germany, France and Hungary, at the first ever pan-European women’s training session, which was organised with the Deutsche Cricket Bund, the Belgian Cricket Federation, and T20 International. A warm welcome was received and we soon felt at home – especially as there were a few familiar faces to greet us.

Day one was all about drills. We started with a warm up catching game and then the scene was set for the drills. Starting with batting drills, we split up into three groups to practice our batting skills, one group concentrating on driving and another on pull shots. The third group was set up for a mini game to get to grips with the speed of the game when playing indoors, an emphasis on backing up and calling being the focus of this group.

Then we went into bowling practice where five wickets were set up with five different focuses. Testing your accuracy using targets and fictive right handed or left handed batters. Bowling wides was a no-no, any mishaps and penalty press-ups or sit-ups were given as a punishment- a cheeky reminder that we were not just here for the social side of things!

After a lovely lunch where a giant pretzel made into a lovely sandwich was laid out we got straight into fielding practice. A strong favourite was the diving drill where you got to dive onto a big crash mat trying to catch the ball at the same time (or take a sneaky rest on it!). The training was wrapped up by splitting us up into two teams and playing a game, giving us the chance to experience the game ahead of the mini tournament that would be played on the second day.

The Belgian ladies were exhausted but so pumped on the adrenaline of a good first day. The prospect of a quick pit stop at the sauna to warm those muscles was a priority for Sue and Christina, who wasted no time getting back! After freshening up at the hotels we all met up for a lovely dinner and a few (subjective) drinks. The fantastic organisation of this social programme deserves a mention- and with true German organisation style, it was all perfect! A few speeches were made and Darren announced the teams for the next day.

Day two saw quite a few sore muscles and delicate heads, which meant warming up and stretching was a must! This day was dedicated to the tournament where each of the three teams would play twice. A significant improvement was seen by all the players despite the stiff muscles! The concentration and determination to improve was clear as every single player improved and enjoyed their time on the field. All the games were incredibly close as batswomen stepped up their games in the face of high batting targets, while bowlers and fielders looked to stem the flow of runs with tight bowling and dedicated fielding.

An incredibly enjoyable weekend thanks to some very dedicated people giving us ladies all the chance to experience the warm atmosphere while playing a game we have all grown to love. Thanks to everyone from Munich for superb organisation, and to T20 international for some excellent coaching.
Ladies cricket in Belgium (and Europe) has just taken up a whole new level of enthusiasm and dedication, and we look forward to the years of hard work and fun to come!