Scotland’s men may have long since returned from the ICC World Twenty20 cricket event in India, but an Edinburgh-born player has been causing quite a stir in the women’s event, writes Gary Heatly.
Leigh Kasperek, 24, pictured, has been one of the star players for the New Zealand women’s side so far and they look set to be involved in the knock-out stages coming up this week.
The highlight for spinning all-rounder Kasperek, who qualifies for the Kiwis via residency, was three wickets for just 13 runs against rivals Australia in the group stages on Monday.
Despite playing on the other side of the world now Kasperek has never forgotten her Scottish roots and owes a lot to Carlton Cricket Club in the capital for her development.
“You name a sport and I tried it when I was young and growing up attending South Morningside Primary and Firrhill High School in Edinburgh,” Kasperek recounts.
“Tennis was my main sport until I was about 16 before cricket became more important to me. I loved being part of a team and I liked playing in the boys’ teams and having to prove myself.
“I remember a primary school competition for Carlton where I hit 34 runs in one over and it is still a story that I tell people to this day! Carlton is a great club and I made so many friends there and learnt so much from some great coaches.
“The club helped me to earn full Scotland caps and my highlight with them was going to South Africa for the World Cup qualifiers in 2008. It was an incredible experience and although I probably didn’t take everything in at the time it made me realise I wanted to try and get to the top in cricket.
“In November 2012 I moved over to play for Wellington in New Zealand’s domestic competition. After that season I made the move down to Dunedin where I’ve resided since. I have played two domestic seasons for the Otago Sparks which have been immensely enjoyable, we have won the one-day competition for the first time in over 50 years and made a Twenty20 final.
“By the middle of last year I was eligible to play for the New Zealand national team, but I didn’t expect it. Being around the national team has been amazing. I am just enjoying the whole experience and trying to learn as I go along. Whatever level you are playing at if you are enjoying your cricket then you will play better.”
The ICC World Twenty20 women’s event is due to finish next Sunday with the final in Kolkata.