For County & Country

Professional cricketer Liberty Heap is a former pupil of Stonyhurst College and is now travelling the world playing the sport she loves, writes Carol Wilson

If someone had told a young Liberty Heap that she would grow up to become a professional cricketer she perhaps would not have believed them.

But the 20-year-old is living her dream, and thanks Stonyhurst College for the support she received, allied to the progression of the women’s game over the last decade for making it all possible and putting her on a pathway to travel the world playing the game she loves for her county and country.

In the last couple of seasons, the Lancashire Thunder all-rounder has played in Dubai, South Africa, India and Oman and there are more overseas trips planned in preparation for the start of the 2024 campaign.

“We’ve got another pre-season tour coming up in a few weeks when we’re going to Dubai for a week and then on to Bangalore,” says Liberty, who made her England Under 19s debut in the ICC Under 19s Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa. She was an ever-present at the top of the batting order, scoring 149 runs en route to the final against India.

“We spent a month in total in South Africa and that was unbelievable. That’s been my favourite trip. At the end of last year I went to Oman on an England A training camp and that was an amazing experience too.

“That’s one of my favourite parts of the job, getting to go and explore other places and experience other cultures and food as well.

“The important thing going somewhere new is making sure you’re respecting their culture and the way they go about their day to day life – we’d never want to go somewhere and be almost blind to that.”

But while the tourism element is a perk of the job, the main reason for such trips is to enhance individual and team performance.

“Going out there in the heat and playing brings another element to the cricket, in terms of how you adapt to different conditions,” Liberty explains.

“Out of all the trips I’d probably say the U19s World Cup has been a highlight so far. Everything about it, even just down to the squad that was out there and the friends that I’ve made, I definitely made lifelong friends.

“The cricket was so enjoyable and it was also good to be involved in such a big event for women, but especially young ones.

“There are a lot more eyes on the professional women’s game, but that tournament managed to give younger players the chance to get used to a bit more spotlight and how they managed their performances under a bit more pressure.”

It was a special family occasion too as Liberty’s parents – mum Shelly and step-dad Ben, who captains Lancashire League side Lowerhouse, where Liberty cut her teeth in the men’s game – travelled out for the tournament.

“It’s one of the biggest tournaments I’ve played in so far, so the amount of travelling and stuff they’ve done over the years with me, they probably wanted to see that moment and it made it more special for me having them there as well,” says Liberty.

Liberty first picked up a cricket bat at the age of eight and has barely put it down since, but her dedication to the sport shows.

She was one of the top run-scorers in the country at regional and academy level for Thunder in recent seasons, with a number of half centuries to her name, leading to her progression to Thunder’s senior squad.

Her long-term goal is to play for England: “It’s definitely something I’m always trying to work towards. But I try not to fixate too much on that. They’re always looking at who’s the most in form at that point, who is best for us now? And that’s coming from a big group of talented players.”

She is determined to demonstrate her credentials at county level first and foremost.

“I’m hoping to make the starting XI. We’ve got a really competitive squad this year and I also think with the amount of fixtures we’ve got, it gives us room to try different squads and see what’s working. I want to have an impact with both the bat and the ball.”

Liberty is also aiming to give something back to Stonyhurst College: “I think I’m going back in to talk to some of the younger girls about cricket and perhaps doing some training with them,” says Liberty, who studied Technical Sport and Higher Level Business, and made history when she became the first female to captain the Stonyhurst cricket team.

“I had some really good staff helping me at Stonyhurst on both the cricket side and the education side as well, just making sure I was across everything.

“When I got into the Lancashire senior team it was obviously quite difficult to balance studying with all the training, but they were so good with me, helping me do that.

“I used to have to take two or three afternoons off per week to go and train and they were really helpful. I will definitely always appreciate that.”



Tedd Walmsley

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