Five Minutes with Yorkshire Cricketer, Lauren Winfield
We caught up with Yorkshire cricketer, Lauren Winfield
Firstly, could you just tell us a little bit about your background?
I grew up in Stamford Bridge just outside of York. I went to Stamford Bridge Primary School and I spent my free time playing boys and mens cricket, as there were no girls teams in the area at the time. I started playing for Yorkshire at the age of 10, and I did all the ageing pathways. Cricket, football and netball were my big three sports.
How would you describe your younger self?
Sport was definitely my thing. I was pretty distracted at school, I’d muck about a lot, but I always took sport seriously – I was immersed in it. I was quite tough; sport was dominated by boys, but that didn’t bother me.
When did you know you wanted to become a cricketer?
I was always pretty good at it, so I thought why not?! I took two years out after school – I didn’t know whether I wanted to go to uni, I was a bit lost and in limbo. I thought I’d end up being a PE teacher, as that seemed the traditional career if you were good at sport! I never really fancied that though. I ended up going to Loughborough Uni and that was pretty much the change for me. Being surrounded by sporting excellence spurred me on. I was on the NCU academy there with lots of other great cricketers, and I was pretty lucky to get called up to the England squad and get a centralised contract in the June after I graduated. I went straight into professional cricket. I also got onto the Chance To Shine programme and became an ambassador.
You have been named as the captain for the Northern Superchargers’ women’s team ahead of this summer’s The Hundred competition. How did that feel?
It was a huge honour. I’ve grown up in the North and played all my cricket at Yorkshire – that was always the club that I loved and wanted to get signed for. To captain the whole area is just amazing. I think it’s a natural progression from doing the super league. I love the North, and the tournament is so exciting so it gives me the chance to stay connected to where I come from.
How are you all preparing for the tournament?
We will all team up around March/April. At the minute, we’ve got the World Cup in Australia, so we will join up after then. It’s difficult in franchise competition as you don’t tend to get together long before the tournament. We will do group sessions led by Danielle Hazell – she’s from Durham and played for Yorkshire. That’s really nice, it’s good to keep the Northern authenticity. Northerner’s are very passionate about that, we’re quite stubborn in that we just love the North!
You’ll be playing four matches in Yorkshire with the Superchargers in August, two at York Cricket Club and two at Headingly. What are you looking forward to most about playing in front of your home crowd?
It’s just so exciting. Hopefully the tournament will bring in huge crowds. We’ve had supporters who come and attend throughout the years, so it’s great to see the same people coming back. I travel around the world playing cricket, but there’s nothing better than returning home to play where it all started for me. It’s going to be great to see people coming down to have a pint with their friends and family and just watch some cricket.
What do you hope the competition will bring to the area?
I think it’s massive. It will raise the profile of the game, and make young girls dream that they can play for England or for Yorkshire. They can see how much fun we have out there. Young and old, it’s all about getting behind the game. Ideally, we want more women’s and girl’s clubs to be accessible to those who want an opportunity.
The competition will be showcasing the new 100-ball format for the first time. It’s bound to make the sport more accessible, but many think it will kill traditional test cricket. What’s your view?
I think it’s like anything – it’s typically British to be scared of change. People think because it’s been that way for so long that’s the only way it can be. But that’s not the way of the world, we’ve got to keep evolving. The ECB are trying to be trailblazers and to evolve the game in a way that’s not been done before, which can only be a good thing. As players, we were sceptical at first, that’s your natural instinct to something that’s different, but we played two trial games last summer and it was fantastic. It worked. It’s exciting, it cuts time down from a spectator’s point of view, play is faster and more aggressive, and that transcends to the players too.
There will be world-class players on display, no matter what format you play – be it T20, T100, or ODI. The quality of players is what makes the game. You can’t hide from the fact that there’s been a struggle to get quality cricket in England. With the T20 blast, you have several world-class overseas players, but not enough to attract real attention because there were so many games. That is ultimately the attraction with The Hundred: on both the men’s and women’s teams there’s such quality, so the standard is considerably higher. It’s going to be as good as it gets.
You became an ambassador for Chance to Shine in 2014 and have continually encouraged more girls to get involved with cricket. Do you think women’s cricket is improving?
100 percent. It’s been a phenomenal rise. Women’s football is also thriving in England. We’re paving the way really. I had to play boy’s cricket when I was younger, until I played for Yorkshire, as there were no girls clubs in the area. Now that’s no longer the case, there are clubs all over the country. Our contracts have changed over the years, we earn a good wage and it’s our sole job. And in terms of TV, all of the women’s international games are covered, and The Hundred will be covered on Freeview and Sky Sports, which highlights that it’s now seen as a viable career for girls. It’s not uncool!
Would you say cricket is a gender-balanced sport?
Yes. It’s a sport for everyone. There are great opportunities.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Winning the World Cup in 2017 at Lords in front of a sell-out crowd, without a shadow of a doubt. We scrimped and scraped into the final, and to play in front of all your friends and family, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It doesn’t come around often at home.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Injuries. Going through rehab, missing out on games, feeling helpless. At the World Cup in 2017 I broke my wrist in the warm-up game, I missed two games and then had to play through the pain. Although I didn’t miss much, it was such bad timing.
When you’re not on the field, what do you enjoy doing most?
I like playing golf, or just seeing my family and friends. That’s the thing I miss most when I’m away – going out for coffee, getting some food and drinks, just doing simple things.
What or who would you say is your greatest love?
Sushi! But I think the better answer would be my friends and family!
And your greatest fear?
Being a professional athlete isn’t a long career. You can’t play forever, so retirement is probably my greatest fear.
Who’s your favourite sports team?
My teams change. I watched the Rhinos game against Bradford Bulls, and the way that Rugby League united was pretty special.
What’s your favourite thing about Yorkshire?
I just love to wander around Roundhay Park and get a pub lunch. I just love the passion Northern people have for where they’re from. Each sport looks after another, and we’re a very loyal bunch.
If you could take one celebrity on a night out, who would you pick and where would you take them?
I’d take James Cordon out in Leeds. He’d be an absolute hoot!
Finish these sentences: The most famous person I’ve met is…
David Beckham at the Sports Personality of the Year Awards.
The last time I lied was when…
I was playing pranks on the girls at training camp.
The worst game I played was…
The World Cup T20 Final against the Aussies in the Caribbean. We lost badly, we just didn’t turn up.
My most embarrassing moment was when…
I drop an easy sitter of a catch in training or, worse off, in a match.
I couldn’t live without…
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were younger, and still an aspiring cricketer, what would it be?
Work harder, earlier. I messed around for quite a while, I only focused solely on cricket once I was 21, which is quite late. So once you find something you love, just put your all into it and give it a crack.