Maia Bouchier Eyes Dream WBBL Campaign After Stunning Summer of Success
As summers go, it’s been all-star for PAYNTR ambassador Maia Bouchier. She has sandwiched in her debut for England’s T20 side between a starring role in The Hundred for Southern Brave and helping Southern Vipers to defend the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy. And now she’s just landed in Australia to compete in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) for Melbourne Stars.
‘It’s been an incredible summer. The Hundred was fantastic to be a part of, even though we didn’t quite get over the line in the final. When that England call-up came, I was in tears, just an incredible feeling. It was such a surprise, but it’s made me even more determined to work harder at my game, because that’s the level I want to stay at. Playing in the team that retained the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint was further validation of what I was doing, and that it was working. And before you know it, I’m on a flight to Australia for the Women’s Big Bash – to play in that competition will be a dream come true. But I’m only just getting started,’ says the 22-year-old.
Bouchier is one of a growing number of elite sportswomen who are rightfully attracting plenty of attention, not only because of their skills on the field, but also as a role model and trailblazer to schoolgirls who now have a clear and visible pathway to being professional athletes – a situation that was difficult to imagine until relatively recently.
‘When I was younger, I never really thought about being a role model. Obviously, I’d seen the girls, like Katherine (Brunt), Charlotte (Edwards), and wanting to get there, but it was a long journey to do that. When I was at Middlesex, and then Hampshire – which isn’t that long ago – I never really contemplated just how quickly the professionalism would develop. We’ve all worked incredibly hard, and for young girls to see that there is a full-time, professional route in cricket is something I’m really proud to be a part of. The families coming to watching The Hundred was great to see, and not just girls looking at us as role models but boys too, saying ‘I want to hit the ball like Katherine Brunt or bowl like Nat Sciver’. And that’s got to be a good thing,’ she adds.
It all started for Bouchier not long after she’d swapped toddling for walking – and running – with what would now be described as FOMO – Fear of Missing Out, as her Father introduced her brothers to the sport. A competitor even at that young age, Maia was into everything. And Dad was keen to get her in the mix, too.
‘I picked up a bat when I was four! I’ve got two older brothers, my Dad is a keen cricketer, he was always watching the sport and he started a cricket club when I was five or six years old. I obviously wanted to be involved, not wanting to be left out, so I started playing with the boys and then a girls’ team was formed, and it pretty much escalated from there. I had county trials for Middlesex, represented them until I was 18 and then moved to Hampshire. During that time, I’d been with England in the age group development squad. The last 18 months have been incredible, the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint and The Charlotte Edwards Cup and the England A Tour to India – it’s all pushed me to go further, and the support I have is immense. I don’t want to let anyone down, I’m so passionate about cricket; it’s my life,’ she says.
The pinnacle for any athlete is representing their country, and this was no different for the talented opening batter. And when the call came through, as fate would have it, Maia was surrounded by some of her dearest family members.
‘I was in a café with both sets of grandparents, as well as my Mum, and the phone rings, so I go outside to take the call – it’s Jonathan Finch from the ECB. He tells me the news…and then I have no words, absolutely speechless. I did manage to say something, obviously, because everyone was ecstatic, so proud. The next person to tell was Dad because he’s normally the first call I make – I couldn’t be anywhere without him; he was the one who got me into cricket. Here I was, eating a cinnamon roll and the next thing I know I’m taking a call to say I’m in the England T20 squad. What a moment, and to share with most of my family was very special. Just amazing.’
‘I noticed (teammate) Georgia (Adams) was wearing this new brand of shoe last year, and when I asked about the performance, she said the shoes were great. They’re really comfortable, and I’ve enjoyed wearing them through the summer. Batting was the first love, and once I started getting into the England age groups that was my focus, but I’ve always had my bowling as well and I do see myself developing into an all-rounder, that’s certainly in the works for the next few years. Batting will always be my strength, and that’s what’s got me into the England reckoning, but I want to be part of the bowling attack.’
Maia’s journey through the age group ranks was helped by attending Rugby School, the birthplace of Rugby Union, and four years after finishing her A-Levels, she credits the all-round approach of the coaching staff at the Warwickshire school as key in her development as an athlete, competing with boys and proving she was on her way to the top of the game.
‘Part of the reason why I went to Rugby School was because I was allowed to play with the boys, and I don’t think that would have happened 10 or 15 years ago. Once I started playing there, and getting into the representative teams, everyone was really supportive, teachers and coaches were great, and I enjoyed it so much because I was allowed to train and play with the guys. Being able to play for the 1st XI at Rugby School on the famous Close was amazing, it’s a cool ground and so pretty. The facilities there are incredible and I’m grateful for everything I learned there and the opportunities I had,’ she concludes.
Everyone at PAYNTR wishes Maia a successful WBBL – we’ll all be watching!