Leg spin is the most difficult art to master. As a very rubbish leg-spinner myself, I understand that perfectly well.
Women’s cricket is a perfect example of just how hard it is – aside from Dane van Niekerk leading the South African attack, and Amelia Kerr making waves as a 14 year old for Wellington, few examples exist in the women’s game.
The only example who can rival van Niekerk is Kristen Beams, one of Australia’s players for the upcoming Ashes series. Aside from her playing career (which has already accrued 139 wickets at 21.91 across the limited overs formats), Beams is also the Australian Cricketers’ Association’s national manager of their Past Player Game and Personal Development Program.
Despite her busy schedule, with the Ashes series in particular looming, Beams was kind enough to give a Six Ball Over.
1. First and foremost, the up-and-coming Women’s Ashes series. You’re in the squad for all three formats of the game, starting with the ODIs in late July. What are your hopes, personally and team-wise, for that tour, and how much are you looking forward to having the experience of playing in England again?
Kristen Beams: First and foremost we want to win the Ashes, to do that we will need to win across all three formats and we have the team to achieve that. From a personal point of view I want to be able to contribute by taking wickets and be a three format player.
2. You’ve been playing for Victoria since the 2007/08 summer and for Tasmanian age-group sides since the late 1990s – what changes have occurred in Australian women’s cricket since then, and how has the increased professionalism within women’s cricket improved the standard?
KB: The game has changed a lot (as has the men’s game) due to short format cricket which has been really positive. More T20 games have been televised and it has become more professional across the board. It’s a great time to be female cricketer!
3. You decided to take on the hardest art in cricket, leg-spinning. It’s allowed you to become a genuine wicket-taker with the ball, while still keeping to a very handy economy rate. Who helped you develop as a wrist spinner, and do you think that point of difference has helped you reach the top level?
KB: I’ve been lucky to work a lot of great coaches, growing up in Tasmania I worked with the late Terry Jenner and Richard Allanby who were big influences on me when I was younger. Hard to say whether bowling leg spin has been my point of difference to get to here (you’d have to ask the selectors), but It’s nice to be able to offer something different within the team!
4. You’ve also now got a role with the Australian Cricketers’ Association, working predominantly with game and personal development of past players. What first led your interest into the role, and is a leadership/development role within cricket something that you’ve had a long standing keenness for?
KB: I’ve worked a lot in cricket in my working life, I spent three years at Cricket Tasmania and Cricket Australia before starting at the ACA. When the role came up I thought it was a great opportunity to be a part of a program that supports past players, the ACA are doing some amazing work in this space and I’m really enjoying it. It is a bit of an unknown for me as to career post cricket, at the moment I’m enjoying learning and developing new skills alongside playing cricket.
5. In terms of your role with the ACA, will you be concentrating particularly closely on trying to advance the cause of women’s cricket and women’s cricketers, or is your position from a more overall viewpoint?
KB: My role is solely in the past player space, I guess what I do offer is a firsthand perspective on what it’s like to be juggling work/ cricket/ personal life. And like every female cricketer we want to see the game continue to move forward and I’m passionate about that.
6. What future do you see for women’s cricket in Australia, and what are the major steps you see CA needing to take to secure a healthy women’s cricket infrastructure in Australia?
KB: I think there has already been a lot of progression in the women’s game and it’s important that it continues to gain more momentum. The introduction of the WBBL will be another advancement which will hopefully drive more interest/ media exposure. I think the key to a successful future for women’s cricket in Australia will be strength at all levels from participation, club cricket, State Cricket and the National Team.