The thought of making her England debut during the tour of West Indies brings a huge smile to the face of Kate Cross.
With the squad flying over to the Caribbean today ahead of their opening match in the Tri-Series against New Zealand on Wednesday, the thought of making her England debut kept the Lancashire bowler grinning.
Having been dropped from the academy squad a year ago, a strong summer led to a recall before the 22-year-old was included in the England Women’s Performance Squad of 21 players this winter.
Fellow seamers Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt are not part of the 14-strong tour party to West Indies and Cross is determined to make the most of any opportunity that comes her way.
In an exclusive interview with ecb.co.uk, when asked how she would feel if she made her international debut during the tour she said: “I don’t think you’d be able to knock the smile off my face.
“It’s something I’ve been working for since I was 14. When you work for something for so long you start feeling that you do deserve it and I think that was where my problem was last year.
“Thankfully being dropped gave me the kick up the bum that I needed. If I do get my cap it’ll just be incredible.”
After Cross returned to the academy side, she was selected for the two-day clash with Australia this summer and turned in a superb display, removing three of the top four and captain Jodie Fields to return figures of 4-48.
It was a performance to make people sit up and take notice and it also gave the Mancunian the self-belief that her game belonged at the top level.
“That was a bit of a surreal moment,” she said. “When I got off the pitch and sat down I thought ‘I’ve just taken four top-order Australian wickets’ but I wasn’t really thinking that way on the pitch.
“I was bowling in a consistent area. Lauren Winfield was our captain that day and she kept me on and I got the rewards for bowling in the right area.
“When you take out four of Australia’s top batsmen it gives you a bit of confidence.”
Her time with the academy also offered an opportunity to play against the likes of South Africa, India and Pakistan and this winter’s opponents West Indies, who will tackle England Women in three ODIs following the Tri-Series.
Cross believes those past experiences will ensure her step up to a full international will be an easy one.
“The whole point of the academy is to make the transition smooth from academy to senior level,” she said.
“My mindset going into the West Indies now is that I’ve played against these teams and I can bowl in the right areas to them and hopefully the actual playing-for-England side will not make a difference to how I’m feeling.
“It’s going to be a good tour; I’m really looking forward to it.”