After a storied career that included roles as coach and captain, offspinning allrounder hangs up boots with 152 appearances to her name
The Scotland Women versus Pakistan Women match on Monday (February 13) ended in tears for the Associate nation, but not so much because of their six-wicket defeat. With Scotland knocked out of the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 at the group stage, Kari Anderson, their influential allrounder, announced her retirement from international cricket.
Anderson, 34, is more than a middle-order batter and offspinner for the side. She’s been coach, captain and senior player, while also helping develop women’s cricket in the country in a role with Cricket Scotland. And she’s represented Scotland over 150 times across formats over 17 years, with a highest of 114 not out against Northumberland in 2008.
“To be a player, to be captain, and then to be a coach for your country is pretty special. And to play 152 times is pretty cool as well, but it’s 152 and out!” she laughs.
It's been a privilege & honour to wear the Scotland top.I take with me great memories & great friendships, thanks for all the support! https://t.co/IfxWGPMKUF— Kari Carswell (@karicarswell82) February 13, 2017
Her last match in the Scotland shirt, at the Colombo Cricket Club grounds, was a disappointing one, having made just 7. But that is no fair reflection of her tournament. In keeping with the theme of 30-somethings this year outshining their younger competitors, she made a fifty in their opening match against South Africa, and took home the player of the match award in the win against PNG. She made 26 vital runs then, while taking three wickets, holding on to one catch and effecting a run-out.
“It was a bit emotional, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect,” she said, after breaking the news to her teammates. “But I’ve obviously been thinking about it for a while. Coming into this tournament, I knew this was going to be my last one. It’s been a long career – nearly 18 seasons! So it’s a good time to step away and let the younger girls flourish and get the valuable experience they need.
“I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it and I’ll take with me loads of amazing friendships and loads of great memories.”
Cricket teams are often family, but the Scotland side stands out as a community. The girls enjoy the loudest support among teams at the global events they’ve been a part of. Family, friends and club-mates from back home follow the team, flags and sun-block and chants in tow – and don’t hold back from telling the players to put their backs into it. It was a poignant moment for all of them, and the group photo at the end of their Sri Lankan sojourn will be one for the mantlepiece.
Abbi Aitken, the young Scotland captain, admitted Anderson’s departure would be a “massive loss”. “We’re disappointed to see her go, particularly when she’s still capable of putting in man of the match performances. She has really gone out on a high. But it’s the right time for her and that’s the important thing.”
“It’s always great to bowl with someone so experienced,” said Kristie Gordon, the young left-arm spinner who picked up four wickets on Monday and has been one of the team’s most impressive players. “I’ve learnt most of my on-the-pitch tactical awareness from her over the last few years.”
Recalling her relationship with the senior player, Aitken said, “When Kari was captain and she stepped down because she got given the coach role, she turned to me to take over the captaincy. I was 18 years old, so probably still very young, still had a lot to learn myself, so for me, she’s been there through the whole journey as captain, especially in the first few years, when she was my coach and she was a player – probably safe to say she still did most of it.
“But to have her in my team and to learn from her, I really have learnt from the best. She’s been a teammate, she’s been my coach, and she’s been a really good friend as well. She really does have it all. I can’t say enough good things about Kari and will just miss her very much.”
Having fallen in love with cricket at an early age, she moved to New Zealand last year to explore new avenues working and playing with Northern Districts. “It’s a good standard of competition. You play against the White Ferns and a lot of the girls looking to move up the next rung of the ladder. It’s broadened by cricket too. It’s showed girls in our squad there’s opportunities there for them as well.”
A strong believer that playing men’s cricket “toughens you up quite a bit”, she also urged young players to simply just talk more cricket. “We probably don’t do enough of it. If you do it, you’re considered to be a bit of a badger, a bit of a nuffie. But speaking to people about cricket, and different tactics, that’s the way you learn. It’s gold dust.”
In all these years of playing, 2017 was the first time she played the likes of South Africa, and she’s excited about where the game is moving in her country.
“When we started, we had to pick a squad of 14 and that was 14 people who actually knew how to play cricket. Now we’ve got a lot of younger girls coming through. We’ve got a regional competition, we’ve got a national league. We’ve got way more girls and women playing cricket than ever before. And just even the support from the governing body has been massive. The amount of resource and finance they now give to the game back home, it’s quite significant.”
Anderson admitted she’d miss the jokes and the banter, but, “all the hard work you have to do, all the early mornings, getting taped up before a game, I’m not going to miss any of that.”