Photo Credit: Sportsfile
The women’s Super Series moves North this weekend as Wallace Park in Lisburn prepares itself to host a T20 double-header – and Belfast-born Cara Murray is calling on local fans to come out and support the Dragons as they look secure their first win of the season.
The Dragons are the adopted Super Series side that features a host of talented cricketers from Northern Ireland, complemented by experienced international talent from other parts of Ireland, such as Leah Paul, Arlene Kelly and Orla Prendergast.
Having lost their opening game in the competition to Scorchers on Monday, the Dragons will be looking to secure back-to-back victories this weekend – with the first game getting underway at 11am.
Women’s cricket is one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland, and globally it is growing in popularity – the recent Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa attracted 192 million viewers, which was a 44% increase on the previous tournament.
As the peak domestic competition for women in Ireland, the Super Series plays a key role in preparing players for higher honours – and the competition for places in the three teams is fierce.
Murray, 22, is closing in on 50 international appearances for Ireland and with a busy summer schedule coming up knows how important the Super Series competition is as she looks to improve her all-round game:
“It’s massively important that we are playing games of a high standard with some huge international games coming up. Having these domestic games at a highest as possible standard is only going to put us in a good place going into those games. All the players have been training hard since the World Cup and hopefully we will see that hard work pay off and we can show it in the Super Series.
“The Super Series also provides players coming through with an opportunity to showcase their abilities. This year we have more of the Under-19s involved, so this year’s Super Series will be a hugely exciting opportunity for those players and also senior players to put in good performances.”
Murray, who took two wickets and two catches in the loss to the Scorchers, feels that she has more to come in terms of performance on the pitch:
“It’s obviously nice to contribute, however, if I was being super critical of myself I know that the performance wasn’t up to scratch. As a team we’re looking to take learnings from that game into the next game, and hopefully write a few wrongs.”
“We took a lot from that game on Monday and hopefully we can now take that into the games on Sunday. We are a unique team in that everyone is based in different parts of the country, so we’re still learning how each other plays, but hopefully another two games this weekend will help the team gel even more and we can go on and show what we can do.”
With interest at an all-time high in women’s sports, how nice would it be to see the fans turn out at Lisburn this Sunday?
“It would be fantastic to have a good crowd down to watch the games. Having games across the three provincial unions provides great exposure for the women’s game, and hopefully we can inspire future generations within the NCU to want to play for the Dragons in years to come.”
There’s a big summer ahead internationally, with the West Indies, Australia, and the Netherlands to play. How much are you looking forward to that, and especially heading away to the Caribbean, and taking on the World Champions once again:
“It’s very exciting to have these international fixtures coming up. We took a lot of learnings from the World Cup and hopefully we can take our game to the next level and pick up a few wins this summer. Playing against the world champions Australia, these are the games that we want to be playing in. We want to challenge ourselves against the best teams in the world, and we showed that in the World Cup warm-up game that our team has the capability to beat anyone.”
Ireland are competing in the ICC Women’s Championship for the first time. How important is it to be playing the best teams in the world on a more regular basis?
“The ICC Women’s Championship is massively important. Being involved in that competition provides us with more funding which has allowed for contracts to come in, and I think we are seeing the value in these full-time contracts already so it will be very exciting to see the full impact of them in a few years’ time. Being involved within the championship also means more international fixtures against the top sides, and as I said these are the games we want to be playing in, We want to show how we can not only play against the best but also compete against them.”
Certa, Ireland’s largest fuel supplier, have come on board as the new sponsor of the Women’s international team this season. Cara is delighted to see an Irish brand getting behind the team and says that it shows the value and importance of women’s sports:
“Having new sponsors come on board is great because more funding allows for more promotion and exposure for both our Super Series and International fixtures that we have throughout the summer. The Super Series is a competitive series in itself but it’s also a platform for senior and up and coming players to put in good performances and be selected for international games, so it’s really important that we have good Irish sponsors behind us that can support us and allow us to play on a regular basis.
“Having an Irish company like Certa come on board as a sponsor of the international team is brilliant, because it’s going to help not only grow the game, but also allow more people to see that cricket is an international sport.”