From playing cricket for Buckinghamshire juniors and women at the age of 14 to receiving a call up email to be part of the Trent Rockets side in the inaugural The Hundred competition at only 18 years old, Ella’s plans for her 2021 summer changed dramatically.
Prior to the call up to the Trent Rockets side, Claridge had been part of the Lightning Regional Development Centre before being called up into the Academy squad this year. Cricket has always been a large part of Ella’s life and being given the opportunity to be involved in the newest England Cricket tournament seemed a target for the future before it came a reality just three weeks before the competition was due to start.
When did you find out about your call up to Trent Rockets, where were you, how did you find out?
I found out about three weeks before the tournament. I received an email out of the blue from Salliann Beams offering me a contract. I was so surprised when I read the email as it was something I didn’t expect to happen this year.
Not only was this Claridge’s opportunity to be part of the opening season of The Hundred, but as part of the Trent Rockets set-up, Claridge was surrounded by some of the world’s best cricketers like Katherine Brunt, Nat Sciver and Sammy-Jo Johnson.
What was it like training alongside the likes of Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver?
I learnt so much from just being around the team and seeing how the best in the game go about their training. Seeing how skilled the top players are it gave me a lot that I can take into my own game in the future. The step up in the level of training helped me to improve my own game in such a short time.
The Hundred allowed for the womens’ game to played in conjunction with the men’s tournament with the majority of fixtures being double headers. This gave Claridge the opportunity to play and train in some of the country’s best cricket grounds, including a trip to Lord’s, the home of English cricket, where they took on London Spirit.
How did you find The Hundred experience?
It was an amazing experience to be a part of the tournament as a whole, it felt like womens cricket was really in the spotlight. Being able to play at the big grounds in front of large crowds was really fun. The team atmosphere was great and just being around the group was a fantastic experience for me as I’d never been in that type of environment before.
Alongside the big names in womens cricket, Claridge was part of a long list of Lightning Seniors who were part of The Hundred. Ella spoke about how the involvement in The Hundred really boosted the Lightning environment when they joined back up following the tournament.
How did you find coming back into the Lightning training environment post The Hundred?
It felt like there was a real buzz around the group as everyone had such a great experience with The Hundred and personally it was great as an Academy player to come into that environment.
Ella’s cricketing success didn’t finish there, as on the back of The Hundred she joined up with the Senior squad and was able to put all the learning from the tournament into practice which earned her a call up to the Senior squad for the Charlotte Edward’s Cup fixture against Central Sparks.
What was it like to receive your first Senior Lightning cap?
It was a really proud moment for me, having come through the Academy to then make the step up to the Seniors felt like a big achievement. It’s been a whirlwind of a few months and to get my Senior cap was really the icing on the cake and something that I didn’t expect coming into this season