At the recent Cricket Ireland awards Bready Cricket Club's Alana Dalzell was named ‘Female Player of the Year’ for 2020, an accolade she says was a huge surprise.

“I just wasn't expecting that at all. To be fair it was a huge surprise when I got the phone call. Both of the other girls nominated (Charlotte Lyons and Rebecca Stokell) are really active in their club, so I definitely wasn’t expecting it,” said a delighted Dalzell.

Alana Dalzell

She’s been playing cricket since she was six years of age, but only joined Bready Cricket club at the age of eleven along with some school friends. It was at Bready that she fell in love with the game.

“It was probably because of the whole camaraderie feel that I fell in love with the game. I love the mental side of cricket as well. It's quite challenging how every match can be so different. With the dynamics of cricket there’s so many things you can do, like fielding, batting and bowling. There are so many avenues you can go down with each ball. I just really love that. The coaches, from a very young age always made cricket fun for me. That's how it started out for me in the beginning, the whole fun aspect of it.”

Alana Dalzell bowling

Dalzell, who turns 20 later this month, was selected to play for the Bready Men’s Firsts last summer by Head coach Davy Scanlon, a selection he said was fully merited: “I had conversations with other senior players about selecting Alana, as we all knew the enormity of the decision. Everyone's initial thought when I asked was, why not? She deserves a go like anybody else.

"I don’t think she believed me at first, but when she figured out I was serious she took it in her stride and said, no problem see you on Saturday.

“She knew that she had done the hard work to get the opportunity. The rest of the players were informed and every one of them supported our decision. They all backed her before the game and on game day.

“She did very well on the day. In hindsight I probably held her bowling back a bit too late. She should’ve bowled more overs in the game, but as T20’s are so quick the game flew by. She bowled really well, and but for two dropped catches she would have had a few wickets to add to her debut. Wicket-keeper Ross Campbell dropped one of them and she let him know all about it,” laughed Scanlon.

David Scanlon presents Alana Dalzell with her senior cap

Scanlon didn’t hold back when asked about her achievement at the Cricket Ireland awards: “We’re immensely proud of Alana for the recognition of her hard work and commitment to her career as a cricketer. It’s an unbelievable accolade for someone from the North West, let alone our club Bready. Having played woman's cricket in the club and having to travel to Dublin for every game at the next level shows some serious commitment and is just worthy of recognition.

“Alana definitely has the talent. She is 100% committed and has the drive and desire to succeed and become an international cricketer. I have no doubt about that. Hopefully now with the emergence of a Hub in the North West she can get the opportunities to develop to that level.”

Dalzell is heavily involved in the club, as she works behind the bar and is also on the club committee. With the backing of her family and everyone at the club, everything is in place to help her succeed. With her outstanding performances she is now on the radar of the National selectors.

She was called up to the Scorchers squad for Super Series for the first time in 2020, making her debut in their opening game against the Typoons. She was again named in this years’ squad ahead of what will hopefully be a busy summer of cricket. The seam bowling all-rounder knows that getting the opportunity with the Scorchers is a massive step up for her, but so far she’s loving it.

"I just love being down there and seeing the experience from the players, especially in the 50-over format, because we don't get as much of that up here in ladies’ or even men's cricket. It was great to get exposed to that. Just being able see out the 50 overs. I really enjoyed being down with the girls, and the whole competitive aspect of it.

“I know I keep referring back to the mental aspect of cricket but that's the biggest part I take away from them. It’s how the girls deal with different situations, like patience at the start of an innings, being able to pick yourself back up from like a fumble in the field, or maybe a silly mistake that you've made. Just being able to move on from that instead of dwelling on it.”

Scorchers head coach Glenn Querl (pictured above) was very impressed with her.

“She made a great impression coming into the squad with her all-round cricketing abilities. There are always things to improve upon. More experience and opportunities to bat in the middle against high quality bowling, will definitely benefit her batting.

“Being around such a talented Scorchers side was a massive benefit to her. Alana is an exceptional fielder, and she should keep working on this area of her game. It is an invaluable experience for the young players to get the opportunity to play against the best players in the country.”

Alana Dalzell with her father and sister

When asked if there was any player that she looked up to, she said: “I just look to club players on our side since there’s not really many North-West ladies playing. They help the younger players see the pathway that we can make it from the Northwest to the Ireland team.

"If I was forced to choose someone, it would probably be the likes of Ireland Internationals Craig Young and Boyd Rankin, just because they're from my club. Seeing how they’ve made it to where they are now.

"I was chatting to Craig on a zoom call recently and he was talking about how he was getting on. He's getting to travel and do what he loves, so I think that's something that I’d like to do too.

“At the end of the day, I just love playing cricket.”