Cricket is still quite a closed shop when it comes to female players lining up alongside the men in the adult game.
But breaking down the door to that shop is 18-year-old South Normanton girl Natasha Allen, who is developing a reputation as one of the best young prospects in the country.
She is one of only a handful of women players in the male-dominated Bassetlaw League in north Nottinghamshire. And now she has been selected to play for England for the first time, at the Women’s Indoor Under-22 World Cup at Dubai in September.
“The competition is held every two years, and she went for trials in 2015, only to just miss out,” said proud mum Marie Gash. “But since then, she has really worked hard and put in a lot of training. She is absolutely thrilled to be selected.”
Natasha’s achievement follows steady progress she has made not only in the indoor game with Nottingham Ladies Bar Lane, who play in the National League during the winter against big-city rivals, but also outdoors in the summer. Primarily a bowler, she plays for Welbeck 3rd in the Bassetlaw League and is currently the side’s leading wicket-taker this season. Natasha also holds down a regular spot in the Nottinghamshire Ladies side that is doing well in the First Division of the Royal London Women’s County Championship, and turns out for Clifton Ladies on Sundays.
“Her main objective at the moment is to fight her way into Welbeck’s second team, but her dream job would be to play for England Ladies,” said Marie.
Natasha has always been keen on sport and used to play football for Derby County’s girls’ sides. But her stepdad, Paul, is a keen cricket fan and coach, who teaches in schools, and it wasn’t long before she got the bug too.
The trip to Dubai, which will feature matches against the likes of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, promises to be the highlight of her cricketing career so far. But because it is an amateur tournament, she must fund it herself and so needs to find at least £2,000 to meet travel and equipment expenses.
Natasha is a student who has just finished her A-levels and is only just embarking on her working career, with courses and qualifications in the pipeline to meet her ambition to become a personal trainer or cricket coach. Therefore, any help that local businesses or supporters could offer for Dubai would be greatly appreciated. She can be contacted through her mum’s e-mail address, which is firstname.lastname@example.org.