Sisters look to spin an Irish fairytale

Sisters look to spin an Irish fairytale

Teen talent

Sisters look to spin an Irish fairytale

At a time when they are supposed to be playing age-group cricket, two teenage sisters from Ireland are relishing the chance of competing against some of the best in the business.

Top-order batswoman Gaby Lewis, just 14, and left-arm spinner Robyn Lewis, two years older, have risen up the ranks of Ireland cricket so fast that not only will they be cutting their teeth in international cricket, they are also expected to play key roles in their country’s quest to get some wins under their belt at the women’s World T20.

Two of the three teenagers in the team, cricket runs deep in the veins of the Lewis siblings. Their grandfather Ian played first-class cricket while father David Allan Lewis went on to captain the team before signing off as the third most capped player for his country. So picking up the bat and ball came automatically for the two very early in their lives.

“We got into cricket through family,” said a beaming Gaby who stands 5’9’’ tall. “Dad was part of the YMCA club and we started playing cricket when we were 3 or 4 years old. Our dad played and captained Ireland in the 1990s. His passion has always been cricket. We only got a girls’ team at the club when I was 9 or 10, until then we played with the boys.”

Playing with boys from such a young age is what has fast-tracked their progress, felt Robyn. “It was very hard initially but you can see the benefit now. We have made our debuts at such an early age. There are not a lot of girls who play cricket in Ireland, so you get your chances quite early if you are very serious about cricket. And if you are good, you are asked to play with the men’s teams. We get used to it.”

For Gaby, playing with men has helped her handle the pressure of international cricket better. “I do get nervous but the senior girls calm me down. Even batting with them makes me very comfortable. I think playing boys cricket has helped me a lot. I’m not as scared as I thought I would be. Actually credit must go to Lucy O’Reily — aged 16 years — for showing us the way. She made her debut when she was 13 and she played in the last World T20 as well. We three are very close friends, so it’s nice having her beside us. She keeps telling us what to expect and what to do and what to avoid.”

Robyn, whose father is currently the men’s team selector, said it is challenging to play along with her sister. “Cricket is more a family thing in Ireland. If anyone in your family plays cricket, you end up playing it as well. It’s great to have your sister playing with you. It makes you even more competitive. There is always a family battle on who is better than the other!”

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