CRICKET: Smith ready for Arabian challenge

Bicester Advertiser: Linsey Smith is looking forward to playing for the MCC Linsey Smith is looking forward to playing for the MCC

Oxfordshire's Linsey Smith can’t wait to fly out after being selected by the MCC for a tournament in the United Arab Emirates next month.

The 17-year-old, from Thame, is included in a squad of 14 for the inaugural Sport Arabia Women’s Under 19 ARCH Trophy in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from February 18-23.

Although the side will play under the MCC banner, it is effectively an England team, having been drawn from the national under 19 squad.

“I was just overwhelmed really,” said the left-arm medium pace swing bowler, who plays her club cricket at Aston Rowant, after hearing of her selection.

“Obviously I have never played out of the country before and with such a big, well-known team like the MCC and England I am really looking forward to it.

“It is amazing. I am really excited to get the call-up. “Hopefully I will go out there and impress the coaches and the MCC, and will get future chances and opportunities.”

Smith will attend a training camp at Loughborough University on February 2 and 3, before returning there on February 14 ahead of the flight from Heathrow two days later.

In the tournament, the MCC face Durham, Devon and Essex in Group A at the Zayed Sports City Stadium’s nursery pitch in Abu Dhabi on consecutive days.

The top team will then face the winners of Group B – which consists of Scotland, Wales, Lancashire and Sussex – on finals day when the respective runners-up, third and fourth-placed teams take on each other.

Smith, who is in the sixth form at Lord Williams’s School, Thame, has graduated through the Oxfordshire girls’ age groups.

“I think it was on an under 15 tour down at Taunton that I was spotted by one of the England coaches and I started from there with the England set-up,” she said.

“Last season I finished with Oxfordshire Under 17s and now I am going to play for Berkshire women, which is in the top league.”

As well as playing in the men’s 2nd XI at Aston Rowant last season, Smith was a member of Reading Ladies, who play in the national league.

And while it’s her bowling that has got her to this level, she is keen to improve her batting.

“I really worked hard on it last year in the winter and I have been working hard on it again this winter, and hopefully it will come through in the games,” she said.

And looking to the future, she added: “I think the next step for me is pushing into the England Academy and obviously from there to the full squad.”

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