At just 19-years-old, Exeter College’s Anna Squire is becoming something of a trailblazer in her sport. Not only was she the first female member to play in the top division of the North Devon Cricket League three years ago, she is now also the only girl to play cricket at the AoC Sport National Championships – in a competition full of men.
Cricket only entered the National Championships for the first time this year, with Newham College the inaugural gold medallists. There was no female-specific cricket tournament in place in Tyne and Wear, but that didn’t stop Squire getting involved and making her mark.
“We had three trial training sessions and I was selected with seven guys,” said the right-arm, medium pace bowler.
“I thought I played alright, I picked up a few wickets and scored a few runs, so it was a good tournament.
“It’s always a challenge because the pace of the bowling is a lot faster and you’ve got to react more when you’re batting, and they [men] can play better shots because they react a bit quicker. So I’ve always got to keep my bowling on the right spot.”
It may have been a successful tournament for Squire on a personal level, but her Exeter College side struggled as a whole, only being kept off bottom spot by Wales’ Neath Port Talbot.
But the third year Applied Science BTEC student said it was a good learning curve for the team: “I found it to be an amazing experience. It was good to come from Devon all the way up to Newcastle, and the level of sport is a lot higher than it would be back home.
“It’s great to experience a new level of sport and the guys pushed the standard, so you’ve got to constantly get better.”
Striving for improvement is nothing new to Squire, who plays for Filleigh Cricket Club in North Devon and is so well regarded in the county, she even has her own sponsor - South Street Chiropractic in South Molton.
And without a women’s team to play for at college, the teenager didn’t think twice about joining the men’s academy instead.
“I love a challenge. We don’t have a women’s team at college as of yet, but there are three girls in our academy of about 15 or 16,” she added.
“At first when I started at the academy I think everyone was like ‘oh it’s a girl’, and then as it’s gone on everyone’s accepted all the girls that have gone to the academy and it’s a great atmosphere.”
But despite enjoying playing against her male counterparts, and more than holding her own in the middle, Squire remains hopeful that women’s cricket will enter the AoC Sport National Championships in the not-too-distant future.
“I’m so glad cricket has been brought to the National Championships. I think it’s great I can play guys’ cricket but I know women’s cricket as a sport is up and coming, and it’s getting bigger and bigger as the years go on,” she said.
“I think one day there will be women’s cricket teams up here competing nationally and I think it will be brilliant.”