Surrey’s new captain Aylish Cranstone on the challenge ahead as Surrey Women start their season off next Monday.
Winter and preseason…
The winter has been, for me, a little bit different to other people. I actually had surgery on my wrist in November. There were some difficult periods over the winter, going through lots of rehab, but I’m kind of coming out the other side of that now and preparations for the season have begun.
We’ve been batting out in the marquee, which is fantastic. We just love it out there, although it is really hot! But in terms of the group, everyone’s been training really well and everyone’s fitness is looking really good. It’s almost another level from last year, seeing people in the nets, bowling, batting, balls flying everywhere, everyone’s just stepped up their game a little bit which is good.
We are really fortunate to use the marquee as we don’t get to use a lot of grass. But that’s the tricky thing with The Kia Oval because they create these amazing pitches and then you go out and you play that first game of preseason and suddenly the ball is not coming above your shin. But it’s getting used to playing on grass and bowlers bowling on grass. The bowlers will be working on their variations and just trying to bowl their best ball and the batters just trying to be really positive, striking the ball well and with intent. The more we can play on grass, the better prepared we will be for the start of the season.
Because a lot of the girls play in the South East Stars regional team, we’re around each other a lot, and then we come together a couple of times a month as a group for Surrey. So this Sunday will be our last team training session before our first game. We’ll then get together a couple of days before that first game of the season, just to go over our plans for the T20 stuff and discuss how we’re going to approach it.
Structure and thoughts ahead of the new campaign…
I think the first year it was a little bit, going here, there and everywhere and it all got a bit confusing, but, this year it’s working well. Every team has their own identity. One week you’re with the Stars, then you’re going to Surrey on the weekend, and it’s got a little bit of a different feel, different conversations are had. It’s quite refreshing to go to different teams and have a different energy, a different environment.
It’s definitely going to be an exciting season. As I said, we’ve got some young girls coming up from the county age-group stuff so it will be really good to see how they go. And yeah, fingers crossed, we’ve got a really successful season ahead.
A lot of us have been part of Surrey since a young age – I moved over when I was about 16 or 17. But a lot of the girls have been in Surrey since 13. We’re obviously got quite a strong rivalry with Kent, so when we play for the Stars, obviously we’re a team, but equally, you’ve got that rivalry. But, going back to Surrey and getting all the girls back together is just really nice. And it’s a team that’s really strong and has bonded really well for the last five, six years now. It just feels like you’re going home for a game, which is really nice.
We’ve got Kent, Sussex and Hampshire in our group (Vitality Women’s County T20). Everyone’s got strong teams, everyone’s got regional professionals within their squad now, or a lot of just regional players in general, and the standard has gone up. The league is going to be really tough this year. Kent will always be a rivalry for us, but as I said, I think Sussex and Hampshire are going to be equally as tough. It’s great to know that our games away from the Stars are going to be at a really high level. So again, we’re just getting more exposure to really tough cricket because I believe all those games are going to be really, really tough games.
We have lost a couple of players this year and we’ve brought a couple of younger girls in. We do want to win 100%. But I think, as a captain, I’m keen to expose those younger players as much as we can because they potentially will be moving up to a higher level in a few years and the earlier we can expose them to difficult situations, or just competitive situations, the better. I speak with the coach Jon Batty, and it’ll be weighing up, obviously being competitive, but also giving individuals a chance to see what they do and have that developmental aspect as well.
The key Surrey questions…
Surrey means so much to me. I really feel like Surrey are the pioneers of women’s cricket. I think they’re doing the most out of any county for women’s cricket. They are pushing it as much as possible. They really value you as a person as well as a player and it’s just so nice to play somewhere where you know you’ve got loads of people backing you and loads of people supporting you. I love it and to come and play at a place like this have The Kia Oval as your home ground is fantastic.
Who do you sit next to in the dressing room? I quite often sit next to Eva Gray. We’ve got quite good vibes between us. We can both get a little bit fretty at times and a little bit nervy so it’s quite good to have someone near me and we can calm each other down. Pre-match, we’re both sometimes having like a mini breakdown, sat next to each other, or moaning about how cold it is. We’ll have some good jokes between us. We’ll be laughing around and then yeah, if one of us is feeling a bit stressed, we can go and calm each other down!
The funniest? I mean I would say it was myself! Well no, I wouldn’t… maybe I’m a bit boring! I would say and I hope that she will play some part in this season, Beth Kerins, who has been our opening bowler for probably the last seven years, is fantastic in the dressing room. Always jokey, has a bit of an edgy feel, always turns up wearing rogue outfits or brings a skateboard under her arm or something. But yeah, she is always bringing entertainment to everyone.
Most and least stylish? I’m going to say me! Yeah, I feel like I always look quite nice. Least stylish, I’ll go Bryony Smith. Always got flip flops on. I like flip flops on holiday but she loves the jeans and flip flops look!
Most intelligent? Kira (Chathli) did an engineering degree, oh no… it was a chemistry degree! She’s really intelligent and anyone who wants to do a chemistry degree at uni must have something going on.
Joker or class clown? Potentially Alice Capsey. She’s young, often looks very moody but then can absolutely crack a joke and spring into life.
Dressing room DJ? Claudie (Cooper) is always putting the tunes on. It can be anything. I quite like them! Sometimes you got 90s Classics going on, other times we’ve got house music. We’re not really too sure. She’s got complete control, whatever Claude is feeling that’s what’s going to come on. I think I find my music tastes are often very different to what the team would want on the day, so I usually put some chart hits on that I would never actually listen to but everyone else seems to enjoy. They would all be shouting at me if I put my music on!