WEARSIDE cricketer Rachael Petherick has been selected by the ECB to take part in the Under-19 England Women’s Development Programme.
The 18-year-old from Sunderland was rewarded for a string of fine performances for Durham with a place on the 12 month scheme, which forms a key part of the pathway to full international honours.
Petherick has been with the programme throughout the summer but is now one of 21 young cricketers to have made the winter squad and will benefit from specialist training sessions throughout the close season.
Those will predominantly take place at the ECB National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough.
Her place on the scheme has also led to an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence, meaning she will follow in the footsteps of Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington and England and Arsenal footballer Jack Wilshere.
The talented left-arm spinner told durhamccc.co.uk: “I think it’s a really good honour to be picked for England, even if it is just a development programme.
“I was on the way to college actually and my dad rang me and said that he’d had an e-mail from the ECB to say I’d been selected. I was in a confined space so I couldn’t really celebrate too much, but it was an amazing feeling!
“It’s a big step up because you’re in a team with a lot of girls who are the best in the country, so you’ve got to do a lot to stand out. However, being a left arm spinner, there’s not many around so it kind of makes me stand out a little bit more.”
The ambitious youngster is targeting a career in the game and is enrolled on a Higher National Diploma course at Sunderland College, which could lead to a role in coaching.
With an impressive bowling average of 16.56 for Durham this season though, including best figures of 5-11, a future as a professional cricketer is also a possibility.
Should she accomplish that, she will follow in the footsteps of Durham-born spinner Danielle Hazell, who is a regular in the full England side.
“I think my ambition is definitely to play cricket internationally, it’s something I’ve done since I was about seven years old so it’s all I’ve ever known really,” said Petherick, who has taken over 100 wickets since she first played for her county aged 11.
“Having Danni Hazell, who now plays for England, is great and she’s someone who I aspire to play cricket with.
“There’s not many girls that come from Durham who play for England, so she’s definitely one of the role models I’ve got in cricket.”
The former Gateshead College pupil, who made her debut for the senior women’s team four years ago, plays her club cricket for East Rainton.
Bowling against men in the competitive North East Durham League can be tough at times, but it’s a challenge that she clearly relishes.
Petherick added: “It’s really good fun and it brings a challenge too, bowling at older guys and people that want to try and hit you out of the park!
“You’ve just got to prove them wrong. Being a girl, they think they can just hit you all over the place but it’s good getting someone out when they’re a lad!”