While the sport of cricket boasts an impressive history in Emma Parker’s family, it was never her passion until recently.
The talented teenager has since enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks and is now a team member of the Northern Districts Spirit team, as well as part of the Skycity Hamilton Northern Premier League (NPL). She started the NPL competition in blazing fashion, being top scorer in round one.
Emma’s father, John, is a former New Zealand cricketer who played 36 test matches and 24 ODIs for New Zealand. While Emma grew up with a household immersed in the sport, she preferred hockey and playing the trumpet, and it wasn’t until her high school years that she decided to have a bash at the game.
It didn’t take long for her skillset to show and she first made the Northern Districts Spirit team aged just 15.
The technical aspects of the game continue to fascinate Emma and she thrives on the challenge of constant improvement and development, from skill levels to mental strength.
Fitness Journal finds out more …
Name: Emma Jane Parker
Team: Northern Districts Spirit Player, Sonic (NPL)
Where do you live? Ohaupo, Hamilton
High school attended? Waikato Dio (2011-2015)
I have no idea – hoping to figure that out asap
How did you get involved in the sport?
I decided I would play cricket for the first time ever when I started high school. Why I started playing I don’t really know… It was a bit of a weird decision as I had never shown any
interest whatsoever in the sport.
Outline your upcoming season?
This season will be full of Saturday men’s club cricket, NPL games, under 21 games, and domestic competition. Along with that we also play quite a few warm-up games. Anything else that pops up I am always keen on.
What is your greatest successes to date?
In terms of selection it would have to be when I was first selected for the ND Spirit team just after I turned 15. I was told by accident which was quite funny. I was very excited, but it was daunting at the same time. My first season was great with an awesome bunch of girls to teach me the ropes.
What motivates you?
I love it when you accomplish something you have been practising. Whether it be a big thing that applies to a whole game or innings, or whether it’s just one shot or one throw into the keeper. That feeling of it working is what keeps me going.
What is your greatest challenge in the sport?
In cricket, especially being a batter, you only get one chance, you don’t have a big margin for error at all. If you make a mistake you are out. Whereas in other sports if you throw a bad pass, within a minute you will get the ball back to have another go. The challenge of not making a mistake is huge and especially hard when you have to do that over an extended period of time. I love that challenge, but sometimes it can be tough, both physically and mentally.
Who is the team around you?
Being involved in a lot of teams, there are always different coaches and management that we are involved with. My dad has been my coach from when I first started playing up until the present time. He isn’t the official coach of any of the teams that I play for, but is always on the bank giving me signals if I need some help and giving me throws or putting balls in the bowling machine at our practices.
What does the sport involve?
Cricket is quite unique in the time factor that it requires. To be properly prepared, practise takes a lot of time. I believe that you will play how you practise, so to be fully prepared to play well, I have had to practise batting for a couple of hours at a time. Along with all of that, there is bowling and fielding practise. Fielding practise is broken up into a lot of different “sections”. Basically, there is a large time commitment to just the practises, and then there are all the games on top of that.
What gives you the most pleasure?
When you do something that you have been practising and it comes off in a game – that’s awesome. Also, the fact that you can always do more is exciting.
What are your long-term goals and
What is required to reach them?
My goal that is to keep improving all the time. I can’t put a figure on it, but it’s one of those things deep down you know whether you are improving or not. To do this I believe you need a long-term plan with your coach on how you game is going to develop over a few years, instead of plans that only apply to a week or two.
Was there a time when you thought of giving up and why?
Totally. There have been times where results haven’t been going my way and its always on your mind about the possibility of giving up and doing something else. I think the fact that women’s cricket in New Zealand hasn’t until now provided much of a career makes it a bit easier to contemplate that idea of giving up. However, it is promising to see countries like Australia who now have a fully professional women’s domestic team, showing that there is a career path to be had in women’s cricket. NZ Cricket is also on this path and hopefully that continues.
Name five things about you/your sport people would be surprised to know?
1. I have played the trumpet for nearly 11 years
2. Cricket was my least favourite sport in the world up until I started playing when I was 13
3. I think cricket is a great sport because anyone can play it – even my mum has played when some of my teams were short of players!
4. I have never bought a pair of spikes – My first ever pair was given to me hand-me-downs about four years ago and I still wear them to this day.
5. I have just gotten my braces off at the ripe old age of 19
What are your favourite local spots to train and why?
My absolute favourite place to practise and play is my local club – Kaipaki. It is 2.4km away from my house and is a small ground that has an English feel to it, especially having the banks all around the ground and white picket fences. It has a community feel that is second to none and there is never a lack of laughter and smiles down at the ground, no matter what sport is being played.
Where in the world would you want to play and why?
I think playing at Lord’s would be one of the ultimate places to play for any cricketer just because it is the home of world cricket.
Are you involved in other sports?
I play club hockey for Te Awamutu in the winter. We also play a lot of tennis throughout the summer down at the courts at Kaipaki. But whatever sport is happening I am definitely going to be in there giving it a go.
Who inspires you and why?
In terms of sports people who I look up to, there are the likes of AB De Villiers who is a great sportsperson, not just in cricket. But then there are people who I know personally who inspire me. I guess it is because I know more about what they are going through and I can see what they have to do to succeed. (One person in particular, who shall remain nameless, otherwise they will shoot me). I have seen how hard they work and how mentally tough they are and the huge amount of success that they have had. I think seeing someone I know well do these things gives me the motivation/inspiration to also try and do it.
What advice would you give to others wanting to have a go at the sport? I would say to give cricket a really good go and to try and be the best you can be. Try and find a coach that you can stick with throughout your whole career instead of changing between different ones.
This will give you consistency throughout your development which I think is important and will give you the best chance at becoming the best you can be. Other than that, always play because you love playing.
Don’t ever play to try and make a certain team, play because you love the game and whatever happens after that is a bonus.