Okay, friends. Are you listening up? Because I have a hot tip for you.
You’re about to meet the next big thing in Australian sport. Her name is Holly Ferling, she’s 18-years-old, and she is this close to becoming a household name. Particularly if your household is really into cricket.
You see, Holly is one of our youngest and brightest cricket stars. At such a young age, she’s already been announced as the first-ever female cricket ambassador for MILO.
MILO is a little bit brilliant, as it supports junior cricket development in Australia, and has done so for the last 24 years. Along with Cricket Australia, it’s introduced 6 million kids to cricket and active, healthy lifestyles. (And probably also the deliciousness of MILO… straight out of the tin, anyone?)
But that’s not the point. The point is that Holly’s going to be out there, inspiring kids to take part in cricket – a sport that has been traditionally incredibly male-dominated. Many people don’t even realise that we have an Australian women’s cricket team who are equally as competitive and skilful as the men’s team.
I had a chat to Holly to find out more about her ambassadorship, and discuss women’s cricket in further detail. What she said was fascinating. Have a read:
How did you get started in cricket?
I had always played backyard cricket against my younger brother Lane and dad. Sometimes I would go to Lane’s junior cricket trainings and have a bowl but I wasn’t really that interested in cricket. It wasn’t until a Monday night when I was playing touch football and I had a girl in my team ask me to come trial for the district school girls team. I had no idea there was such a thing as women’s cricket until then. Within a couple months of making that district team, I made my first state school girls cricket team.
How did you begin getting competitive in cricket?
I have always been a competitive person whether it be with school work or my sport. I always want to do well and I guess that’s my main motivation when I train nowadays. However, I don’t think you can beat a brotherly-sisterly love/competition. My brother Lane has been my best training partner for a number of years. Every training session is a competition to see who comes out on top. That competitive nature back at home is what helps me on the international stage.
Did you originally have to start out on a boys team or did you always have opportunities to play with girls?
Being from a rural area, the only time I played in a girls team was when I went away to Nation Youth Championships with the Queensland team, so that was only once a year. Every other time I played against and with boys and men. I played my first men’s match when I was 13 and actually ended up taking a hat-trick off the first 3 balls I bowled. I took another wicket later that over and had figures of 4-0 off my first over. I enjoyed playing against the boys and the men. They taught me exactly where to bowl and I guess it was always good to say you bowled the boys out.
You’re only 18 – how does it feel, being so successful at such a young age?
It’s all still sinking in to be honest. This last 12 months has been a blur – I didn’t think I’d be playing for my state while still in high school let alone my country. I am so honoured and privileged to be given the opportunity to start my career at such a young age and I’m hoping I can show girls what is possible at this age.
What does a normal day look like for you?
I go to the gym early in the morning to do a weights and running session, then I come home, do some cleaning or grocery shopping. I’m about to start studying full time at uni so I will also have lectures and tutorials. Then I’ll do skills training in the late afternoon/night, come home, cook dinner then go to bed and do it all again tomorrow.
How does it feel to be the first female cricket MILO ambassador?
It’s a huge honour to be a cricket MILO ambassador let alone being the first female. In my role, I’m hoping to change the common thought that cricket is a single gender sport. I want to be able to show girls that cricket is a sport for them. When I was 12, I only just learnt that girls played cricket, so if I can break down those barriers and help make cricket one of the top sporting choices that girls make, cricket in Australia will be put in good stead for future years to come. I’m really excited to use this role to inspire the next generation of female cricketers.
What is the best way for Australians to be more interest in women’s cricket?
We play a different brand of cricket in that we don’t have the brute strength that the men have. Despite this being a disadvantage, we have used it to our advantage to make the game our own. The women’s game is just as skilful with the batters having to work the ball more and score in different areas in order to score plenty of runs. As bowlers we have to use what we naturally have (pace/swing/bounce/spin) to our advantage. A number of the girls bowl just as quick as the men. As for our fielding, a number of catches taken by the girls this summer are sure to make the classic catches highlight reels. The best way to get involved is to watch just one game of ours when it comes on TV. I can guarantee you will hooked on this different, yet equally as skilled brand of cricket.
How do you think we could Australians interested in female sport in general?
A lot of people that I have spoken to love seeing another perspective to sport. They love seeing the athleticism of females as well as watching women’s teams make the sport their own. Of those people, I would say 90% of them found the women’s sport by chance; they were just flicking through the channels on TV. If female sport is marketed more, I think the interest will rise. It’s not that people refuse to notice or acknowledge female sport, it’s more the fact that they don’t even know that it’s on TV or that it even exists. The more media that broadcasts female sport, the more popular the sport will grow, in terms of participation as well as at a spectating level.
What advice do you have for young girls looking to get involved with cricket?
I would encourage young girls to get out there and give it a go. I have no idea where I’d be or what I’d be doing if I didn’t take that chance and give cricket a go. Find your local club and get involved – even if it is against the boys. It is so much fun playing against the boys! There is a massive pathway for women’s cricket and now there is an opportunity to make it into a career. So the best advice I can give is to get out there and give it a go – you never know where it may take you!
What do you love most about cricket?
I love that it is both a team sport and yet so individual at the same time. There are constant battles every ball. At the top of your run up for a bowler, its batter v bowler. After the ball is bowled, its batters v fielders. It’s such a unique game that momentum can shift in one ball, which is what makes it exciting, and it is what makes it Australia’s favourite game.
And in other sport news from the week…
– This week, the Matildas named their 23-woman squad for the Cyprus Cup, which runs from March 3-13. The girls will play France, Holland and Scotland in the group games in Europe. Best of luck!
– Our incredible Aussie basketballer Lauren Jackson was announced as a national champion for the UN Women National Committee Australia. Jackson will use her role to promote gender equality and women’s rights, both on and off the basketball court. She is the second UN Women Australia national champion to be named.
– Congratulations to our women’s Aussie Sevens girls. They beat out Russia and New Zealand in the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in Brazil – amaze.
Have you seen anything in sport that you’d like to talk about?