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Meet Clare Boycott: The 28-year-old all-rounder celebrating 200 games for Worcestershire Rapids

May the 2nd was a landmark moment for Worcestershire and Central Sparks player Clare Boycott who has plied her trade for the county for almost two decades!

Like many of her generation, Boycott’s entry to cricket was through her father’s love of the game. He played club cricket for 30-40 years or so, with Clare and her brother spending their childhood summers in the nets playing “test match scenarios” after being inspired by the 2005 Ashes.

She then went on to play club cricket for Astwood Bank Cricket Club and Worcestershire County pathways from under 9s before making her senior county debut at just 14 years old.

200 caps is mad. I still remember my first ever county game in 2004. I batted for about 30 overs with Thea Brookes to score one before being run out. I must’ve thought it was a Test match or something. I remember taking 4/9 and that’s still one of my best figures even now.

“It’s just gone so fast, there are so many great games in those 200, I can’t even name how many tense ones, you know the games when it all just comes together and the tough times where we just get absolutely thrashed or had a close loss and it just breaks your heart a little.

“There’s been lots of emotions over the last 200 games, I’m just so proud to have stuck with the same county after all these years as so many people choose to move around the country.”

The Worcestershire stalwart made her debut at Pershore Cricket Club against Essex which she remembers fondly.

“I think I bowled pretty well and batted maybe six or seven and got 32 which I thought was pretty decent for a 14-year-old back in the day. Think I top-scored, but I don’t think we won. I just remember being very, very nervous before the game and just being around older girls I didn’t know.”

Reflecting on her Worcestershire highlights to date, she shares her maiden senior half-century as the first of many memorable moments.

“I think I was about 16 or 17 and that was against Staffordshire. I think I faced Georgia Elwiss and Danni Wyatt in that game. T20 promotion to div one was another great moment for the club and then in 2018 winning the div three playoff, that was a great day and a great night.”

The 28-year-old’s success with Worcestershire has earnt her a place in the Central Sparks squad where she is etched in the history books as their first wicket-taker. The allrounder has featured in both their 2020 and 2021 campaigns and will be looking to cement herself as a playing regular in the 2022 regional season.

And, after 15 years of playing men’s club cricket, she recently struck her maiden century for Astwood Bank Cricket Club making her the first woman in the Worcestershire league to do so.

But it’s also important to recognise Boycott’s success has often fallen under the radar, and she admits there remains a lot of disparities between the men’s and women’s county game.

“Growing up there was a lot of differences, playing on pitches where there were puddles on the wicket, on the outfield you would be slipping and sliding on your backside many times in a game and the umpires would let you get on with it. I guess you don’t really see that in the men’s game. And playing at club grounds, I think I’ve only played three games at New Road for Worcestershire and obviously, they’ve been great.

“I think if we were born male, we would have many more opportunities. I know it’s not fully comparable because it’s their full-time job but then again if more people came to watch the women’s game and more funding from the ECB then maybe the county game could also be professional one day.

“There’s still a lot of issues with funding and I dread to think how much money I’ve spent growing up, on petrol, hotels, and kit, just to play for my county.

“It’s a shame that it feels like county cricket has been pushed aside, there are no proper divisions it’s just grouped by region, and even if you win your group and win finals day you don’t get anything except for the pride of winning. There’s no promotion or relegation which gives you something extra to play for. It’s a shame, it really is. I don’t think women’s county cricket should be pushed aside. It’s still producing some very good players that are going under the radar but will get snapped up by regional hubs in no time.”

[Photo supplied by Clare Boycott]


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