Dubbo Macquarie seamer Emma Hughes has once again been named a reserve for the Australian under 19s side after another stellar performance at the Under 18 National Championships.
Hughes starred with the ball for ACT/NSW Country throughout their two-week campaign, helping them to second in both the Twenty20 and 50-over formats.
Hughes had hoped to earn a call-up after being named reserve after last year’s championships, but couldn’t be disappointed with her performance.
“I think I had quite a few good games and pretty happy with how I went overall – especially with the 50-overs,” Hughes said.
“I tried really hard and made it as a reserve for the Australian under 19s team, which I’m incredibly happy to be a part of, but also a little disappointed that I didn’t make the team.”
Despite her own disappointment, Hughes was glowing in her praise for Western academy teammate, Orange’s Phoebe Litchfield.
The 15-year-old did gain a national call-up after finishing as the tournament’s leading run-scorer.
Playing for the Cricket Australia XI underage team, Litchfield scored 103 against Victoria Country, finishing with 348 runs for the tournament.
“Unfortunately we didn’t play against her team, but … when she got her 103, it was like ‘Oh my God! That’s Phoebe!’” Hughes said.
“I feel pretty proud that I’ve been able to train with her and she’s been able to make it up to this high level so quickly.”
Hughes herself was a force to be reckoned with across the two-week competition, starring with a stunning four-wicket haul in ACT/NSW Country's opening one-day win over Victoria Country on January 20.
She bowled 51.5 overs in 12 matches, finishing with figures of 10-176 and six maidens.
“At the end of it I was a bit sore because of two weeks straight of playing cricket, but in the end I held up pretty well … especially with the heat as well!” Hughes said.
“I think it shows how important strength and conditioning are, trying to work on those things actually helps.”
Hughes was also sure to have “have heaps of fun” at her final under 18s nationals, and learned a great deal about her game and herself.
“Playing with them all for the last time was sad as well as happy,” she said.
“You don’t realise how much fun you have at these camps, and how much you’ll miss it when you’re gone.”
During a rest day last week, Hughes’ team paid a visit to the paediatric ward at Ballarat Hospital.
It was important to give back, she said, while also putting those performances on the field – good or bad – into perspective.
“We thought it was a good opportunity to give back … and talk to people that have been less fortunate than we have,” she said.
“Trying to make their days better as well as gain some more knowledge about what’s going on around us … it just shows how lucky we are.”
Hughes has hopes of receiving a call-up to the NSW Breakers, but until then turns her attention to playing with Macquarie in the RSL-Whitney Cup, and getting a game with Sydney Women’s League powerhouse Penrith on Sundays.
Playing alongside women like Lisa Griffith (Sydney Thunder) and NSW Breakers Naomi Stalenberg (Thunder) and Mikayla Hinkley (Perth Scorchers) is an experience Hughes doesn’t take for granted.
“It’s always a good experience to be able to play up there with the team and be able to show your skills,” Hughes said.
“Hopefully I’ll … keep working on my skills and hopefully impress the NSW Breakers selectors.”
Down the track she hopes to move to Newcastle for university and play cricket in Sydney full-time. But until then she’s happy to continue in the RSL-Whitney Cup, playing with men who “hit the ball harder” and where she has a lot of fun.
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