GRACE Linke will put her competitive instincts honed in backyard cricket matches against her younger siblings to the test from tomorrow.
The 17-year-old will captain the Western Waves for the first time at the under 18 female state championships in Melbourne.
She enters the championships mentally refreshed after juggling VCE exams with the build up to selection in the Waves’ 13-member squad.
Instead of playing alongside boys and men in Hawkesdale’s C grade side on Sundays, Grace has had to find other ways to maintain her form.
“I’ve a done a bit of bowling and batting in the backyard at home,” she said.
She uses her siblings — Adam, 15, Jakob, 13, and Jemima, 8 — as training mates.
While Adam doesn’t play competitively, Jakob lines up with Hawkesdale’s colts.
“I try to (bowl a few bouncers) but they are pretty good,” she said.
“There are a few times when we don’t really agree if someone is out.”
There will be no arguing with the umpire next week when the Waves chase their second state title in four years.
It will be Grace’s third year in the side, having been part of the team that finished second two seasons ago before missing the final last season.
“It would be really good to get a chance to play with other people instead of with the boys all the time.”
Grace said she was excited to be leading the side in her final year at under 18 level.
“I’m very honoured,” she said.
“Hopefully we will go well.”
She said after a hectic end to her secondary schooling she was looking forward to playing cricket.
“It will be good to catch up with a few of the girls I have played cricket with for a while.
“It’s a good chance to play cricket and have a good time.”
Grace, who intends pursuing an exercise and sports science degree at Deakin University in Geelong next year, said the Warrnambool district needed a girls’ or women’s cricket competition.
She discovered a passion for the game while playing Super 8s cricket at school.
While she enjoys the challenge of playing against boys and men, a dedicated girls’ competition was ideal.
“It would be really good to get a chance to play with other people instead of with the boys all the time,” she said.
“The ability and pace of the game would be a bit slower for the girls to handle.”
Grace leads a team that includes eight players from the south-west. They open their quest for glory with four matches between Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with the top two progressing to the grand final on February 23 at the MCG.
They play two Twenty20 games on Tuesday followed one 40-over match on Wednesday and Thursday.
Fitness will be important, Grace said. She has been mixing up her training between runs, bike rides and gym-based sessions.