Japan’s 2021 women’s national cricket squad trials

In April 2021, I photographed the Japanese Women’s National Squad Selection Trials. As a cricket fan, it was a dream come true. Never did I think I’d photograph national-level sport. So, I was up at 5 am to be in Tochigi Prefecture by 9. Yes, it was a long trip, but thoroughly worth it. I saw some great cricketers in action that day. But, how will they compare against the stars of previous generations?

Ayaka Kanada bowling with Indian batter at Sano International Cricket Ground
Ayaka Kanada sends down a ball.

At that stage, no one knew. High-Performance Manager Simon Dart wanted to find out. He put the applicants through fitness and skills tests. It looked challenging. I’m sure the applicants were tired by the end of it.

batter bowled at Sano International Cricket Ground
And that is out!

After lunch, there was a pair batting competition. It was entertaining.  The players displayed high bowling, batting, and fielding skills. And they were supportive and encouraged each other. Cricket is a team game, and they showed a positive and cooperative attitude.

Simon Dart Japan cricket coach
Simon Dart - the coach.

One of the new players on the squad was Chelsea Moscript from Australia. She was now eligible for Japan. According to Simon Dart, she brought energy and is a quality player with a wealth of experience. I saw her bowl a few overs of leg spin. She impressed me with her skills.

Another player that impressed me was Ayaka Kanada. Kanada was a young pace bowler who had been around for a while. She seemed to have good technique and was fast and accurate. At 24, she still has lots of time. I’m expecting big things from her.

As the day was trials, I didn’t get to see a lot of the batters. They only had a few overs to show their stuff. Many of them seemed to have good technique and patience from what I saw. It will be good to see them in actual games.

And there was something to make the day a big occasion for me. Sano International Cricket Ground has cherry blossoms! How many venues in the world have those? The flowers added something unique to the day. I never thought I would see a game played under one of the trees!

The players were happy to be back in action after coronavirus wiped out 2020. Competitive cricket was back. I got to photograph a few more games that season. 

It was good to see what was at Sano International Cricket Ground. People are moving there to get more involved in the sport. Many universities in the country have clubs. Osaka has a venue for it, at Kaizuka. Games are being live-streamed via Youtube. Cricket in Japan is definitely on the rise! And the women will be among those leading the charge.

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