We are thrilled to have interviewed pupil, 17-year-old Hannah T-A (Atkinson), where she shares the highlights of her extraordinary four-week cricketing escapade in Australia. The journey, marked by rigorous training, unforgettable moments, and newfound independence, provides a unique glimpse into the world of cricket and self-discovery. Check out the interview below.
Tell us about your Australian cricket experience.
The journey getting there was very long! I had training two to three times a week for four hours, and we also had games on top of training. We played around five games, which is quite a lot for being out there for only four weeks. I had the best time! The cricket I played out there was amazing, as well as the training. The main focus wasn’t necessarily on the games but more on what I was going to get out of this experience.
I got really lucky with my host family; I was able to fly in a helicopter, drive in golf buggies on their property and see kangaroos in their back garden. It was summer over there, so it was very hot, and the views were amazing.
What was your favourite part of the whole trip?
My favourite part would be the memories I made out there. Few people can say that when they were 17, they went over to Australia for four weeks for a cricket experience. The memories I’ve made over there will last my lifetime.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about Australia?
I have been there before as I have family there, but it’s so friendly and a really happy place.
Did you learn anything new about yourself?
I think I learned that I am much more independent than I thought I was, as I was over there for four weeks and didn’t have my parents with me the whole time. [Although] I was on FaceTime with my parents pretty much every day. I didn’t realise how independent I could be, and that was a big thing. I learned I’m independent, I could do that again, and I would still be happy.
Were you able to develop your Cricketing Skills?
Yes, I did. In terms of cricket, I was able to develop what I wanted to work on over the winter during their summer, which was nice. I also asked my coach to train me in specific areas, which would be difficult in summer in the UK.
What surprised you the most on your trip and about their team?
It was very similar in terms of team attitude. There was good communication, and everyone cheered on each other, which we do quite well over here, especially within our team. I honestly made friends for life out there; only being out there for four weeks is crazy, but I feel like it is the same team environment, which was nice.
Was there anything that you would specifically take from their team that you don’t have in the Mill Hill team that you would do or vice versa?
At Mill Hill, we cheer each other on and pick each other up. That was lacking a little bit when I was over there; some people did, but not the whole team.
What key takeaways would you incorporate in cricket over here compared to what you used to do before the four weeks?
To believe in myself a bit more. I can be very self-critical of my cricket skills because I hold myself to such a high standard. All my coaches and my parents believe in me. I need to believe in myself in order to push myself further. Hearing it from a complete stranger who has only known me for a week, they believe in me and have only known me for a week. Surely I can do it.
Would you like to add anything else?
The cricket experience made me realise I couldn’t just focus on cricket. You have to experience that way of life, which was completely different to mine because I was staying in a small town compared to London.
I found out the sun goes down earlier, and their training was so much earlier in the day, which almost threw me off because I’m so used to having training at 18:00 while they were starting at 15:00; I felt like I should still be at school. Instead, I was in the car on the way to cricket, which was fun.
You have similar experiences when you go on tours, but only for two weeks, and you’re with teachers and everyone. While this was very much through the help of the school, I was by myself. No one’s going to be out there with me. You have to decide what you want to do; you don’t have your parents calling teachers, saying, ‘Do you want to have a session now?’; you have to decide when you’ll do everything, which was very helpful because I’m so dependent on my parents over here. My parents drive me everywhere. In Australia, I had to decide what I was doing to work on my cricket experience.