Alice Davidson-Richards has found a way to put the fun back into her game after earning a recall to the England squad for the final two matches of the ODI series against Sri Lanka.
It was while out on a bike ride last Friday the 29-year-old all-rounder received the phone call letting her know she was being brought back into the international fold and going back to her roots the following day to watch some friends from her teenage years playing in a club match.
Returning to her roots proved revitalising for Davidson-Richards, who struck 101 on Sunday to help South East Stars defeat leaders The Blaze in the domestic Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy and then took two wickets on her England return in Tuesday’s rain-affected ODI against Sri Lanka.
“It’s been a fun few days,” Davidson-Richards said. “I went to some club cricket on Saturday and seeing it in its true form put me in quite a nice position for Sunday.
“I just remembered how fun cricket is and what it’s like to play in those Saturday club games. It’s been quite a fun few days and I tried to bring that into Tuesday.
“If I put pressure on myself that’s when it tends to not go well. It was just remembering how relaxed I was when I played club cricket.
“On Sunday, I was actually envisioning playing on that club ground and thinking about how stress-free it was, so I think that really helped calm my brain down and stopped Alice getting in the way of Alice.”
Tuesday’s match in Northampton, where the seamer’s two wickets had helped England reduce Sri Lanka to 106-9 after 31 overs before rain brought an early end to proceedings, was Davidson-Richard’s first ODI appearance since last December’s 151-run win over the West Indies.
The injury-enforced absence of Emma Lamb and the decision to rest 17-year-old seam bowler Mahika Gaur after her stunning debut in the seven-wicket win at Chester-Le-Street opened the door for Davidson-Richards and spinner Charlie Dean to come back into the side to face Sri Lanka at the County Ground.
It was only the fifth ODI appearance of her career as well, underlining the depth of bowling options England have at their disposal. Yet Davidson-Richards, who took 10 wickets in The Hundred for Northern Superchargers and has 12 for the Stars so far this season, relishes the competition for places and believes it is a sign of the progress being made in domestic women’s cricket.
“The more people we can get up to that level, the better for the England team and we can keep pushing each other on,” Davidson-Richards said.
“The depth was always there, but it was a case of how you’re going to get it out and get them up to that standard.
“I think the structures we’ve now got around the country are brilliant and in domestic cricket, everyone is getting better each year.
“The competition, the levels between the regions is getting better and better as well, so I think it’s a natural progression and one which will only get better as time goes on.”
The abandonment of Tuesday’s match in Northampton without a result means England head to Leicester still holding a 1-0 series lead over Sri Lanka and aiming to seal outright victory after a surprise 2-1 loss in the IT20 leg of their opponents’ tour.
Despite taking 2-16 at an economy rate of 3.20 runs per over, Davidson-Richards was of the opinion she could have bowled better on the day.
Even so, did she feel she had done enough to warrant retaining her place in the team for the final match of the series at Grace Road on Thursday, though?
“I’m thinking no further than maybe some ice cream on Wednesday,” Davidson-Richards said. “We’ll deal with Thursday when we get there.”
Watch the third and final match of the ODI series between England and Sri Lanka live on Sky Sports Cricket from 12pm on Thursday, September 14 (first ball 12.30pm). Also stream on NOW.