Meet Elena Tice, international cricketer at just 13!
Wed, Aug 31, 2011 1:29 PM
Elena getting her first cap from captain Isobel Joyce
Elena Tice became the second youngest cricketer ever (male or female) to play an official One-Day International or Twenty20 International.
Elena made her ODI debut on 17 August against Netherlands at Utrecht at the age of 13 years and 274 days in the ICC European Women's Championship. She made her Twenty20 International debut on 15 August also against Netherlands in the ICC European Women's Championship.
The youngest ever cricketer (male or female) is of course Sajjida Shah of Pakistan women's team who made her debut at the age of 12 years and 271 days against Ireland in July 2000.
A leg-spinner, Elena picked up 2-34 on in her only ODI and ended with figures of 3-12 in her second Twenty20 International. Elena has thus far played one ODI and two Twenty20 Internationals.
Born in Basingstoke, Hampshire, Elena was introduced early into cricket. She recalls playing with her two elder brothers in the backyard from an early age.
"Well I suppose I was introduced to cricket at a very young age, spending endless hours in the garden bowling to my dad and my two older brothers," said Elena who was unaware that she was the second youngest international cricketer ever.
The family moved from Hampshire to Indianapolis in USA when Elena was four. There she showed her talent at Little League baseball. When she was six, the family moved to Vienna, Austria where her true initiation into cricket began.
"My brothers and my dad always encouraged me to play. When I was six years old, I lived in Vienna for three years, where I played for the Austria Cricket |Club. I had a great Sri Lankan coach there called Siva Nadarajah. Both Siva and my dad (George), taught me how to play and that is where the interest really started. I moved back to Ireland when I was nine and attended Aravon School where my enthusiastic headmaster, Kevin Allwright, brought me on in school cricket and introduced me to Merrion Cricket Club where I now play all my club cricket," recalled Elena.
Elena's coach Siva also played a part in Elena's brother, Patrick, becoming a wicketkeeper. Elena was seven when she played her first competitive match in Vienna. She always played for boy's team till she moved back to Ireland.
"I was playing for my Viennese Club against a Swiss team. My brother brought me on to bowl at the death, without ever having bowled much before. I managed not to disgrace myself."
Elena believes her biggest strength as a cricketer is the support she received from her family. "My core strengths are definitely my parents, in that they drive me miles to endless cricket grounds. They are really supportive and they are amazing to me! I also take great enjoyment out of the game and the people I play it with," said Elena.
Elena's family was always into cricket. Her father, George (now a veterinary) was cricket captain at his high school. Her grandfather was captain of Sussex school boys and one of her brothers (Patrick) is a wicketkeeper is currently in the Ireland Under 19 squad. Her eldest brother, Dalton, has played provincial rugby for Leinster Under 19.
A medium-pace bowler in her earlier years, Elena turned to spin quite by chance.
"Up until the beginning of this season, I bowled medium pace. However, I was suddenly converted to leg-spin when I realised I was better at it! I had practised it a little bit in the corridor of my house in the winter months with my brother. Mind you, all my coaches always told me it was a terrible idea but eventually I convinced them otherwise after joking around in the net when they realised I was kind of good at it. I have had to work hard this season in club cricket but everyone has been really supportive," said Elena.
An enthusiastic fielder too boot, Elena likes to field at short extra.
She still remembers the day she got a call informing her of her international call-up. "One of the selectors informed me by phone. I was surprised and it took a while to sink in."
When the day finally arrived, team coach and former international Jeremy Bray informed her that she was part of the playing XI. "Inspite of being the youngest, they were all really nice to me and it didn't take me long to settle in. Everyone has been really supportive, especially my coaches, in both the club and Irish squad, who have really worked hard with me. No one has ever made me feel too young to do it," recalled Elena.
Captain Isobel Joyce handed her the first cap and she still remembers the moment vividly. ?'It was really amazing - I wouldn't have ever dreamt of getting a cap this early on."
Elena's next big moment was picking her first international wicket. "To be honest it was a relief to get off the mark. I even surprised myself. I was more just hoping to survive without being hit round the park, so the wickets were a real bonus," said Elena.
But her best moment came in her second Twenty20 International where she ended with a haul of 3-12.
"I came on at the end of the Dutch innings, having not bowled too successfully in the previous match. I had been practising in the nets in between innings and it all came together at that moment. Of course the fielders were fantastic, with Kim Garth taking a good catch, and Cecelia Joyce making a good stumping," summed up Elena.
She grew up admiring former England players Andrew Flintoff and Ashley Giles. "I remember watching Engalnd play in the 2005 Ashes where I took a real liking to Freddie Flintoff and Ashley Giles," said Elena.
Her ultimate dream as a cricketer is for a repeat of what happened at Bengaluru during ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 when Ireland beat England. "My dream is to play in the World Cup and to have another Bangalore experience (beat England!)," stated Elena.
For now, Elena stays in Wicklow and is studying in second year at St Gerard's School. "I would love to be a veterinary surgeon."