Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Katie George is still only 23 years old.
The fast bowler’s natural talent has been apparent ever since she was a teenager –– as evidenced by her England debut coming around when she was just 18.
Injuries have plagued her career at times, but now George is determined to put her physical problems to bed and make a mark on The Hundred this year.
Speaking to GiveMeSport Women, the Welsh Fire star opened up about playing in the competition last season, her excitement for the upcoming campaign and her aspirations of playing for England again.
George made her international debut against Australia in Mumbai four years ago, having taken a hat-trick against India A in a warm-up match ahead of the series.
In total, she has featured in five T20s and two ODIs for England, though a number of back injuries over the years have stunted her progress.
The 23-year-old admitted that her England future was every journalist’s “favourite question” at the moment but stressed that right now her focus is primarily on The Hundred.
“I’ve said before, The Hundred is my focus. I want to put on a good show in that and that’s all I can do. But I’ve never hidden away from the fact that I want to play for England and I want to wear that shirt again.
“Everyone asks me how I’ve managed back-to-back rehabs and that’s the reason –– my motivation is to have that shirt on. But I’ve got to do the right things to get there, so that’s what I’m focusing on and then hopefully that takes care of itself.”
It was another back injury that impacted George’s season for the Fire last year and she was unable to bowl during the competition. Yet, despite her limitations physically, George pulled off some heroic catches and was deservedly named the fielder of the tournament.
“I think personally, fielding can have such an impact on the game and I wanted to sort of make sure that I could show what I could do,” she emphasised. “Luckily, the catches stuck because on another day they might not have done, so yeah, I’m hoping to do something similar this year.”
Though her fielding exploits did not go unnoticed, George wants the focus to be on her bowling and is determined to make sure that this is what takes centre stage.
“I don’t want to be known as a good fielder one year and then the next year people are saying ‘she’s clearly off the pace,’” George stressed. “I want to back it up. Hopefully, though, I’ll be opening the bowling and having my fielding as something that backs me up, rather than being the main event.”
When George does run in to bowl for the Fire this year, she will do so in front of thousands of people. Last year’s tournament attracted record attendances for domestic women’s fixtures in the UK and George says the large crowds help to spur the players on.
The Hundred was phenomenal. I’ve had England games and the odd regional game where the atmosphere has been like ‘wow,’ but for the Hundred, every game was like that.
“The stadiums were bouncing and as players, you feed off that and to see the enjoyment around you is great because we play the game because we love it, so we want the people watching it to enjoy it too.”
In some ways The Hundred mirrors T20 cricket but George clarified that there are some notable differences when playing this new form of the game, which make it especially hard to be a bowler.
“I think the biggest difference for me personally was in T20 you get the PowerPlay and you’re trying to make use of the two people out [the circle],” she said. “Then you get a little period in the middle overs where it depends on how you’re going.
“Whereas, in The Hundred, it’s like that the whole way through –– even if you keep losing wickets it doesn’t matter. You just keep going. So as batters that’s obviously really fun. You’ve got full licence to go and swing and as bowlers, you get really tested because if you miss your length, even by a little bit, you’re probably going to be hit out of the park.”
George, herself, has often been given this “licence to swing” during matches and she is keen to establish herself as an out-and-out all-rounder moving forwards.
The England star has played a couple of fine knocks for the Western Storm this summer and hit 74 against the Sunrisers last month.
“It’s something that I’ve really strived to do and having those injuries and not being able to bowl has sort of forced me, if you like, to focus on batting and I’m really happy with how I have been performing with Western Storm. It’s nice to see the things that I’ve been working on, come off, and hopefully, that continues.”
When asked why new fans should tune in to The Hundred this year, George exemplified that the evidence “speaks for itself.”
Last season gave birth to a new and exciting competition and this year looks set to take things to the next level.