Sophie optimistic ahead of new season

It’s a new year and that means that a new season is just around the corner.

Western Storm Captain, Sophie Luff is confident that the experiences of 2023 will benefit the team this summer.

“I think we’re all agreed that we didn’t have the season that we were hoping for last year,” she said when we spoke to her recently. “I don’t think we showed what we’re capable of. On the plus side though, we had Lauren and Dani going off to play for England, which was awesome. Seeing players progressing to the next level is ultimately what we want to be achieving. To see Lauren pick up the Player of the Series award against Sri Lanka was brilliant, and Dani just looked like she’d been playing international cricket on a big stage for years.

“It was incredibly pleasing to see them both doing what they do for Storm at international level. I know I speak for everyone involved with Storm when I say that we’re immensely proud of those girls and we’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds for them.

“There’s lots to build on. Although the squad is young, they’ve played a lot of cricket in a Storm shirt. It’s important that we build on these foundations. In the future I feel that we’ll have a really good core group of players who will all have come through at a similar time. That’s really exciting. It’s also going to play an important part in establishing the culture within the group.

“From a personal point of view, it was frustrating because I’d had a really good winter in Australia and was in a really good place. Unfortunately, I then broke my thumb. It was my first time on the sidelines with an injury. I’m not a great watcher even when I’m involved in a game let alone when I’m sat there in a bib!”

What did the Storm skipper think of the format of the 2023 season?

“The fact that the ECB doubled the amount of games in the Heyhoe-Flint Trophy shows that a value is being put on 50-over cricket in the women’s game. That was brilliant to see. There was 50-over cricket at women’s domestic level too which is important because county cricket still has a huge role to play. It gives girls the opportunity to make a name for themselves and potentially get a chance with Western Storm. That’s vital moving forward, and our staff do a really good job of keeping tabs on the next potential crop of players coming through the systems throughout the region.”

We recently announced the players who have been named on the Academy Programme and the Emerging Player Programme. How much attention do the professional players pay to such announcements?

“It’s important that we as professionals have an awareness of the young players who are associated to the counties within the region,” Sophie said. “I think it’s really exciting to see who is coming through. Hopefully, this next crop will be full of names that we will see progress into the senior team.

“There’s now a genuine pathway for these girls to come through and make a career out of cricket. Obviously, it’s important that they continue to focus on their education, but the opportunity is now there for these girls to be exposed to high quality professional coaching at an early age. This means that the standards will continue to improve year on year and it’s a great time to be a young girl within the game.”

What can Western Storm Members and supporters expect in 2024?

“The goal is to get to a Finals Day, and I think we are definitely capable of that. We want to be competing in every game and challenging for honours. Hopefully, the experiences of 2023 will help us to get over the line in more games in 2024.”