Derbyshire’s own Anika Verma enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime training session with the England Women’s team ahead of the Ashes at England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough University.
Anika, who plays for Spondon Cricket Club was one of 11 girls who won the unique opportunity to train with the team after entering the #HeathersPride competition.
The competition, for which Akina was Derbyshire’s winner, launched on International Women’s Day earlier this year, by explaining why they deserved to spend the day with Heather and her teammates.
To find the 11 winners, ECB teamed up with the nine First-Class Counties hosting England Women’s matches this summer and selected a winner from each county, with Knight picking the final two members as Captain’s picks.
The girls spent the morning meeting the England team and then training with their heroes at their final warm-up match against Australia A team before the Women’s Ashes begin with the first ODI at Leicester.
Speaking at the event, Heather Knight said: “To see the smiles on their faces was incredible. This event was launched on International Women’s Day and it’s been a brilliant opportunity to witness and encourage the progress of women’s and girls’ cricket in this country.
The girls’ enthusiasm for the game was infectious, and it’s so nice to see how much it means to them. We really enjoyed spending time with them and it looked like they enjoyed the day as well.
“We are excited for the Ashes to get underway and whilst winning is games is incredibly important we also want to inspire the next generation of girls to play cricket through our performance.
“I hope today will live long in the memory of the girls we’ve played with and encourage them to keep picking up a bat and ball and chasing their dreams.”
Clare Connor, Managing Director, Women’s Cricket at ECB, added: “It’s wonderful to see this competition’s culmination and how excited the winners were to meet Heather and the team.
“Our strategy for 2020-24 is all about inspiring future generations and this initiative has helped to bring that to life by giving 11 lucky girls the chance to train with their heroes for the day.”
Vitality Blast is back this month! Tickets for all seven home matches on sale now, including the big clash against Notts Outlaws on Friday 26 July. Buy online or call 01332 388 101.