Kate Cross: England cricketer 'loses track that I'm a girl'

By Chris OsborneBBC Sport
Kate Cross
Cross is Heywood's joint top wicket-taker this season with 12

Kate Cross says she often loses track that she's a girl after taking eight wickets for men's team Heywood.

The England seamer became the first woman to play in the Central Lancashire League last month and took 8-47 in a win over Unsworth on Sunday.

"I'm treated like another player," the 23-year-old told BBC Sport.

"I've grown up playing boys' cricket and I'm never treated like a girl in a boys' team. I never dreamed I would get an eight-for in men's cricket."

She added: "I sort of lose track that I'm a girl."

Cross, who has two Test caps and nine one-day international appearances, first played for her local club Heywood at the age of eight.

But she was taken aback when she made headlines worldwideexternal-link by becoming the first woman to play in the Central Lancashire League in its 123-year history.

"I was really surprised at how much that went viral," she said.

"Australia and India picked up on it and I did an interview for a New Zealand talk show - it was big news there was a girl making her debut in a men's league."

Kate Cross
Cross has taken 13 wickets in nine ODIs for England

Getting changed in the toilet

The Lancashire Women right-armer has now played four times for Heywood, but has a slightly different pre-match routine to her male team-mates.

"At the minute I'm very much getting changed in the disabled toilet and then coming in for the team talks," she said.

"It's a bit of a difficult one. We want to build a new facility this summer which will have a girl's changing room and umpire facilities. Heywood are looking into sorting it out."

Sledging and facing the boys

"There is always that hesitancy that you don't want to get out to a girl.

"But I think people have taken it more seriously since we had professional status. People take me seriously now.

"I keep quite quiet on the pitch. The other lads do the sledging for me. I'd rather take an eight-for and do the talking in that respect rather than not make a fool of myself and get hit for sixes."

Ashley Giles on Twitter
Lancashire head coach and former England spinner Ashley Giles tweeted his congratulations

Professional dilemma

Cross, along with the rest of the England squad, became a professional last May as part of a centralised England and Wales Cricket Board initiative.

The Central Lancashire League allows one professional per team, with New Zealand all-rounder Rob Nicol being Heywood's designated pro.

"There has been talk around whether it should be allowed. But there is nothing in the rule book abut girls being professionals because we didn't exist until May last year," said Cross.

"A few teams have made it known they are unhappy but at the end of the day the league have stuck by their position."