Uncapped fast bowler Freya Davies has spoken of her unorthodox route to the international arena while expressing her excitement regarding her imminent England debut.
Davies made a remarkable start to her county career for Sussex back in 2010, breaking on to the scene as a 14-year old and claiming England legend Charlotte Edwards as her first wicket. More continued success spurred a call-up to the ECB Academy and an opening berth with the ball for her county, but the now 23-year old then took a hiatus from the game to focus on her final year of university after travelling up and down the country for training became too time-consuming.
Returning in the season of 2017, Davies caught the attention of selectors for her exploits in the Women's Super League for Western Storm, and her recent full contract has left her desperate to make her mark on the biggest stage. As the only new England player to be awarded a full contract in the latest squad, it is likely Davies will debut in the upcoming tours of India or Sri Lanka.
"It's crazy. Mad. Surreal," she told ESPNcricinfo. "But very, very exciting, and something I've wanted to do forever. It'll be nice to get the first one under my belt, and hopefully carry on going."
Despite being accepted with open arms into the national setup following her time away from the game, there was a point when Davies was worried that prioritising her studies to become a lawyer might have pushed her down the pecking order for her country.
"I was always keen that at university I was there to get my degree, and that was my priority," she said. "Exeter was the best for what I wanted to do for my degree, so that's where I went.
"When you go away, you never know if you're going to get back in. But it was something I felt I needed to do. I was at university to get my degree and I didn't want to sacrifice that.
"But also there's no time limit on that career, whereas this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I've wanted to do this forever so it wasn't something I was going to give up on easily."
Her proper introduction to the game as a youngster came when she felt time was up spectating her father and brother, and her competitive edge compelled her to turn her arm over herself. "They both played and I was stuck watching," she said. "I decided that wasn't as fun as playing. I was eight when I played my first hard-ball game with my brother's under-11 team.
"I've always been quite tall for my age so that helped when I was 10, 11. But I was just competitive as a kid and that seemed like the most fun."
England Women take on India on away soil from Friday, 22 February in three ODIs and three T20Is, before repeating the same schedule for their tour to Sri Lanka, beginning Saturday, 16 March