My name is Jennifer Jackson and I play cricket for Kent Women’s first team. I have been playing cricket for Kent since I was 9, and it’s all down to my two older brothers and my Dad. Growing up I was a massive Tomboy, always playing sports in the garden with my brothers, always climbing trees and always getting muddy. I used to go to watch my brothers play football and cricket, and this is how it all started.
My older brother, Adam, had a cricket match and as usual I went along to watch. During the match, I was just messing around playing cricket around the boundary when a coach came over to me and suggested that I start playing for a team. I joined a local boys’ team, and soon found myself in the Maidstone district team, with fellow Kent player Matt Coles. From there, it didn’t take long to have Kent trials, and at the age of 9 I was selected for the Kent under 11’s.
Over the past 14 years playing for Kent I have been lucky enough to see and experience some amazing things. In 2004 and 2008 I was part of a group of players and parents who went on tour to South Africa to play against their up and coming teams. During both tours, although being very busy with playing matches and training, we were able to see all the sights and experience the local hospitality. I absolutely loved my time in South Africa, and I definitely hope to go back in the future.
Another massive highlight of my cricketing career is being part of the championship winning team in 2014 and being invited to Buckingham Palace to attend an award ceremony. On the day of the ceremony we were individually presented medals by Prince Philip, and we were also given the “Royal London One Day Cup” which we had been playing for all season. It was great to spend the day celebrating with the team, and it was also great to be recognised alongside the winning men’s team from Yorkshire.
As we are hoping to retain the cup again this season, preparation has been intense. There is really strong competition for places in the squad this year, and everyone is hoping to impress the selectors. This season will be a great challenge for us, as the members of the squad who also play for England will be away on international duties, and a lot of responsibility will fall onto other players. Therefore, everyone has to be right on top of their game. This means a lot of training and preparation for everybody. I am very happy to say that I have been selected as part of the squad for 2015 so I am very excited about the upcoming season.
For me, it has been difficult to fit training around academic responsibilities. I am currently studying my PGCE in Psychology, and as part of my course I have to complete two full time teaching placements. This means that I am effectively a full-time teacher with lesson plans, paper work and observations coming out of my ears! Add to that the university assignments I have to complete, and the part time job that I have to help pay the bills, and the responsibilities I have as a sport scholar, finding time to train has been tricky. However, with great support from CCCU I have managed to have one to one sessions with Mark Dekker, an ex-Zimbabwe international player, which have been brilliant and have been a great opportunity to work on specific areas for development. I have also been working with the strength and conditioning team at the University to reduce my risk of injury over the next season.
Training has been going very well, both individual and team training, and I am feeling more than ready for the season to start. I hope that as a team we will be able to retain the “Royal London One Day cup”, and personally I hope that I can really cement my place in the team and become a senior member. I hope that over the upcoming season and the next year I can continue to impress selectors and coaches and gain a place in the England Academy squad.