Sterre Kalis is used to living out of a suitcase. When she got a week off recently, she spent it sleeping off jet lag. But Kalis, who is only 18, wouldn’t have it any other way. It means she gets to travel the world doing what she loves: playing cricket.
Kalis, the Netherlands opening bat and pace bowler, also plays her cricket in England and Australia.
Just before the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier 2018 at home, which starts on 7 July, she spent the summer playing for Essex in England. She played for her local club in Holland on Saturday, flew to England on Sunday morning, turned out for Essex that day, and flew either on Monday or Tuesday, depending on how many games there were.
“And then I trained in Holland nearly everyday during the week,” she adds, either with the Dutch team, her club team or with private coaches.
That’s not all – it’s been a whirlwind of cricket and new experiences since Kalis finished the equivalent of her class 12 exams last year.
She spent the European winter playing in sunny Australia, where she scored 456 runs at 76.00 and also claimed 11 wickets at 15.00 playing in the Premier League in Tasmania. This included 132* for the University of Tasmania CC in the final game.
Her performances made enough of an impression for Queensland Fire, one of the sides in Australia’s domestic circuit, to want her on board for the next season as an overseas player. Kalis knows it’s an honour and a huge responsibility, but she’s excited to go, even though it means she’ll have to postpone her studies and take another gap year.
“I’m really young, I’m only 18, why won’t I do it!” she says. “How good is it to go to the other side of the world to play the sport you like the most! And I’ll have four summers in a row!” she laughs.
It’s just another step in the development of her game. During her time in Australia, on either side of a Christmas break, Kalis also got to spend two weeks with Sydney Thunder as part of the ICC and Women’s Big Bash League rookie programme.
That allowed her to learn skills from the likes of Alex Blackwell, Australia’s multiple World Cup winner – and also hang out with her, Harmanpreet Kaur and other team-mates at barbecues and on the beach, and soak in the high of people lining up for her autographs.
“It was really cool,” says explains, still excited about the programme. “I was 18, so you’re really a rookie. You come into a team with Alex Blackwell, Rachael Haynes (from Australia), Rachel Priest (from New Zealand). You’re not playing, but you’re with the group the whole day, you’re training with them. You talk a lot with them, so you learn a lot, about their experiences. You bowl to Alex Blackwell, and you learn a lot.
“You learn about how you deal with pressure. They advise you on shots, areas to bowls. Everyone is helping you, so you can compare that and work on it and become a better player.”
She will also be a part of the ICC Women’s Global Development Squad featuring a mix of players from countries in the WT20Q. That means more chances to to improve her game, mingle with people of different cultures and, hopefully, more chances to inspire young girls lining up for autographs.
But before that, there’s the challenge of the Qualifier. Like the global ambassador she is, she hopes the event will boost the women’s game in the Netherlands and lead to an eventual improvement in the number of girls playing, for more tours and more opportunities.
“Some people stop playing cricket because they can’t combine work with cricket. For us it’s frustrating that good players can’t play because they have to work or do other things,” she says.
“In Holland, soccer and hockey are really popular. You grow up with a hockey stick or a soccer ball. But in Australia, they grow up with cricket ball and cricket bat. If I could change anything, I’d change the amount of girls who really love the game.”