When Lara Maritz made her Ireland debut in 2017, she was just 16 years old.
On top of that she was faced with the prospect of bowling at players such as Laura Winfield, Georgia Elwiss, and Danni Wyatt as Ireland played England in a series of friendlies in Abu Dhabi. While her team fell to a heavy defeat, she provided a performance which hinted of greater things to come, claiming figures of 1/51 from nine overs as England piled on 379 from 50 overs.
Still only 18, she is a veteran of a T20 World Cup campaign in the West Indies. While she made little impact on the tournament itself, Maritz did take impressive figures of 3/1 as Ireland cruised to a victory over Sri Lanka in a warm-up game. She now forms part of a new look Irish team - six of their squad of 15 from last year’s World Cup are not playing in the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier - and will have a key role to play if Ireland are to have a successful campaign.
But Maritz’s cricketing story stretches much further back than her Ireland debut. When her family made the move from South Africa to Ireland, Maritz was only four years old. They knew no-one in the place they had decided to make their home, but that soon changed upon discovering the local cricket club.
“My family moved to Ireland when I was four years old, and one day dad drove past the cricket club in Skerries - a local town in Dublin. He decided to join what we soon learned was called The Hills Cricket Club. The club members at The Hills have become like family to us. When we came over from South Africa we knew no one, but the club made us so welcome.”
While she was too young to start playing herself, watching her brothers turn out for the club ignited a passion which would remain with Maritz to the present day. And as soon as she was old enough to start playing, she and her twin sister Tess became regulars in the club’s age group teams.
“My brothers joined the cricket club first, while my sister and I attended their matches and sat on the sidelines supporting them. Then when Tess and I turned five we joined the club - we played in Under-9s and then Under-11s boys’ and girls’ teams.”
Since then Maritz has continued an upward progression into international cricket, but she hasn’t forgotten where it all started. “They invited us over for barbecues and introduced us to everyone. Ever since then the club was a huge part of my career and play a huge part in my life.”
She also continues to work hard on improving her own game, with The Hills providing the setting of many extra training sessions. “My dad plays a huge part in my career and we spend endless hours in the nets at the cricket club hitting balls and bowling to targets. And mum provides endless support, particularly making the food that keeps me going!”
Looking ahead Maritz has big plans: “I’ve worked hard from the age of five and I’m so grateful for the opportunities that have arisen, and I’m proud of myself and how I have balanced school life and international cricket. I just finished school so my plan ahead of the 2020 season is to go to Australia over the Irish winter to improve my cricket and do part-time work.”
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