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Player Diary: Laura Jackson on turning pro

Player Diary: Laura Jackson on turning pro

This winter we will be checking in with Thunder's newest professional, Laura Jackson, to tell us all about her first steps into playing cricket full-time...

I am absolutely over the moon to have been given one of the Thunder’s full-time contracts. 

When the plan to contract some women at domestic level very first got mentioned before the 2020 summer, everyone was working really hard to get one of the five available. Unfortunately I didn’t get one then. But it was definitely something to aim for, and it’s thankfully worked out for me now.

It just takes a lot less stress away and allows you to concentrate on your cricket.

I got a call from our director of cricket, David Thorley, last month saying they’d like to offer me a contract. He said, ‘Have a week to think about it’. 

To be honest, that wasn’t really needed! I was buzzing for the opportunity.

Not only am I really excited about the chance to achieve success with this group of players and progress my own game, but it's also about inspiring the young girls who could be in this position in the future. 

I keep saying to my parents, ‘We’re making history here, these are the first steps’.

We’re inspiring the Academy players, the age-group players and all those young girls in school who are watching as well. It's a brilliant feeling.

I’ve had to give up my job in my dad’s business (in the packaging industry) to take up this contract. 

I can’t say that my resignation letter was a long one, though. In fact, I just wrote on a sticky note, ‘I’m leaving’ with a kiss on the end. I hoped that would be alright, and he just laughed and said, ‘Of course’.

We’ve been back in training as a squad for around three weeks now, with our fitness testing kicking things off. 

That was intense and a bit nerve-wracking. But it was good. We actually did it on a Saturday and Sunday so we could fit everything in. We set our standards to work against for the rest of the winter.

Emma Lamb absolutely nails the yo-yo test every time, which I’m very jealous of. But, elsewhere, we’re all spread out with everyone having their own thing that they’re good at. 

We had a very busy summer and were training throughout. We then had a month off, but we were given a training programme to work with at our own leisure. 

All the girls were very determined to keep in shape, which meant the standard of those tests we did was a lot higher than it would have been in previous years.

Our winter training has been split into six-week blocks. 

In the first six weeks, it’s gym focused to get our strength up. But now is also the time to try something new with our batting. 

We’re not bowling too much and haven’t caught too many balls. Gym and batting is what we’re focusing on at the moment.

I would describe the summer just gone as a great first full year for me. 

I’m a bit of perfectionist, so there are things I would have liked to have done better. But, for a first year, playing in the Hundred and getting a contract, I couldn’t have asked for much more without being greedy.

Bowling wise, I want to work on a few more change-ups and also get a bit quicker to challenge those other girls who are bowling quick. I want to be spoken about more and identified as a pace bowler.

Batting wise, I feel like I’m a really good anchor. But I do need to score more quickly, especially with playing the shorter formats.

I have actually done a bit of batting alongside our new signing, Phoebe Graham, who has been giving me some tips. Bowling maybe her main strength, but she hits a long, long ball.

I love Phoebe - she is great. She’s such a good laugh and fits in so well. She’s a brilliant addition for us.

There’s a lot we can learn from her because she has more experience than a lot of us. I’m so excited to see how she can help.

We started last summer with the aim of being competitive in every game. 

But, as we started playing, we thought, ‘Hang on, we have a chance here. We have a really good team who has worked hard’. 

I think our mindset shifted halfway through the season having not quite expected how much our winter would impact us in a positive sense.

We finished off the season accomplishing the goals we set out to achieve yet disappointed we didn’t achieve a bit more because of that change in mindset.

This winter, we’re a hell of a lot more determined to make next year 10 times better.

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