Georgia Adams’ performances in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy have found her knocking on the England door – but the Southern Vipers captain won’t be too upset if she’s ignored.
That is because, for the first time in her career she can make a living, and a name for herself, playing cricket without an international call-up.
Opening batter Adams has smashed 420 runs in the inaugural tournament, more than anyone else, to help her Vipers side reach the final - against Northern Diamonds on Sunday - with a 100 per cent win record.
The 26-year-old hasn’t been capped internationally despite representing age groups and spending three years in the England Academy.
But her eye-catching acts this season has seen her flirt with the dream of representing her nation.
“Playing for England is something that I’ve always wanted to do and I think I’ve never quite been able to let go of that,” said Adams, whose father Chris played five Tests.
“When I left the Academy three years ago, I was devastated and part of me thought ‘where does this leave me now with cricket?’ but that little bit of me was never quite ready to let it go.
“I was lucky to get a full-time role coaching at BACA [Brighton Aldridge Community Academy] which allowed me to train and allowed me to jump in the gym, and I’m so happy now that I went down that route and kept working hard at my game.
“If England’s door is still open it would be my dream to play for my country but we are one of the best countries in the world and it’s a tough team to get into.
“If it doesn’t happen, I can still look back and go ‘what a brilliant achievement to captain the Southern Vipers’ and take loads away from playing in domestic competitions like the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.”
Adams has scored at least 37 in each of her six innings in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, but it was her 154 not out, while struggling with cramp, that caught the attention of the cricketing world.
England Women’s head coach Lisa Keightley, who brought her into the Academy set-up, was one of those wowed by her exploits.
“She did message me after I had scored the 154. It said something like ‘Brilliant, game-changing knock’ which was really nice,” Adams revealed.
“I have always had a good relationship with her. She was always good at managing players and getting the best out of people.”
Adams has put her form down to two key aspects: finding consistency and playing on first-class grounds.
“Going into the competition I’d been having conversations with Lottie about how as a batter I had never found consistency," Adams said.
“I’ve kind of always known that the reason why I didn't play cricket for England was probably just because I just didn't score runs enough when you looked around county level.
“I just said to Lottie [Vipers’ head coach Charlotte Edwards], all I want is find some consistency, not necessarily always be a match-winner, or the hero but actually contribute.
“So, to have the season I’ve had, especially given the circumstances, I am chuffed to bits with how I’ve been able to play.
“Playing on better wickets also helps massively, as a batter that has been quite noticeable.
“I turned up for a Sussex game against Nottinghamshire last year and we weren’t even sure whether we were going to get sightscreens, and we were in the middle of what looked like a farmer’s field.
“That is the huge jump from county cricket to the regional format.”
It hasn’t been a one-man band for the Vipers, with contributions coming from number one to 11.
Despite Adams dominating with the bat, her Sussex Women teammates have also impressed, with teenager Ella McCaughan having over 100 runs in the competition and Tara Norris and Paige Scholfield among the top seven wicket-takers.
Vipers have simply continued their Kia Super League pedigree, where they won the inaugural competition before reaching two more finals in the four editions, through to the new fully-professional domestic set-up.
“I think it has all clicked and we have a really good balance of having some really talented youngsters alongside some really experienced players," Adams said.
“We have built an environment and a culture where it isn’t a win-only culture.
“People want to be at training, and love being there, and that’s a big tick in the box for creating a winning culture.
“Everyone is behind each other. It can be difficult when we are entering the professional world and it can become dog-eat-dog but we have a great mix of personalities where people want to do well for themselves and the team.”
The Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy is the first step in the ECB's revolution of domestic women’s cricket.
Forty non-international players are set to receive full-time contracts for the first time later this year ahead of planned T20 and 50-over tournaments in 2021.
Adams will be one of those offered a life-changing deal, having been handed a retainer this summer.
“When I was released from the Academy, I honestly thought that a full-time professional career at domestic level was never going to happen,” Adams, an original KSL Viper, said. “Even this time last year I probably never thought it would happen.
“When I received that phone call from Adam Carty [Vipers’ regional director of cricket] in lockdown it silenced me – and I’m usually a chatterbox!
“It is brilliant to have that support from the ECB and to see women’s cricket going up and up and up.
“It is exciting for young players coming through now to have a real career path and more incentive to work hard and make it to the top.”