ANCHORING PERUVIAN CRICKET : SAMANTHA HICKMAN

An Associate nation and a member of the ICC Americas, Peruvian cricket traces back to 1859, when the Peru cricket and football club was founded. Ranging from leagues to youth programmes, cricket in Peru is experiencing an inexplicable rise.

Today, we have the pleasure to interact with an integral part of the growth of the sport in Peru, the head of National cricket development, Samantha Hickman.

Originally from Australia, she landed in Peru four years ago, and her decision to stay there has culminated in her being a pioneer for women’s cricket in the country.

1. Hi Samantha, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Samantha, I am Australian and have been lucky enough to have been surrounded by cricket most of my life. I have a Bachelor’s degree majoring in languages (French and Spanish).
I am very passionate about sports, music and art.

2. How did you land in Peru and how did the decision of staying there come by?

Once finishing my degree in Australia I wanted to practice my Spanish as I felt I didn’t have much opportunity in Australia. I said I had wanted to go to South America and my father suggested I do some voluntary work there sharing something I loved.

I didn’t think they had cricket in South America but was surprised when I googled it and saw the different projects. I sent an email to the secretary of Cricket Peru at the time, Chris Hodgeson, and they were as surprised to receive the email as I was to receive a response from them.

I went there initially for only 6 months, then extended another 6 months, then I blinked and here we are 4 and a half years later!

3. What memories do you have of playing cricket in your childhood?

I remember going and watching my dad play every weekend from when I was 4 or 5. My sister and I would watch all day long and wander around the boundaries of the different cricket matches at the park.

I fell in love with cricket there, we started playing when I was 10 in a local club next to our house. My dad and my sister and I used to go down to the nets near our house almost everyday.

4. As Head of National Development, how would you comment on the current state of women’s cricket in Peru? What has been the greatest change you’ve noticed since you arrived up til now?

We have made a huge amount of progress in the past years. Just two years ago we only had expats in the team with 1 or two adult Peruvians, last year we fielded the first fully qualified team for ICC international matches with a whole team of Peruvians.

We have a young base of players now that will hopefully grow and learn in the next few years. There is still a way to go, but there are more and more girls being introduced to the sport.

One of the issues with the South American tournaments is travelling costs. The women’s team were all able to play in 2019 as it was hosted by Peru. The other tournaments have travelling costs which many players cannot afford.

5. Did you face any lingual or cultural barriers when you first came to Peru? How has the experience of being part of cricket growth in the country been?

Even though I had begun to learn Spanish in Australia I still found it was completely different when I came to live here. It was difficult, but it really helped me grow as a person and challenged me in a way I had not been challenged before. It took time, but then things became a lot easier.

It has been incredible to be able to see the growth of a cricket culture and passion in not only Peru, but Latin America since I arrived over this side of the world. I am very grateful to have learnt from so many people.

For my first two years I was a volunteer under the direction of Steve Hallett, for those first two years I really got to understand cricket from a new perspective from him and also from the kids we were teaching.

It allowed me to really understand how we had to find different ways to get the message across in a region that didn’t have the same prior knowledge. It has been a very humbling experience.

6. Collecting funds has been a significant issue for cricket development in Peru. What initiatives have been undertaken to raise funds?

We have tried to create sponsorship proposals for different companies as well as we had a Gofundme page.

At the moment we do not have any support from the Peruvian Government but we are in the process of investigating how to become a Federation. If we were able to do that then we would unlock a lot more government funding.

7. What would you say is the level of interest for Cricket in girls at School and College level in Peru? Has there been a consistent rise in quality players in the Peruvian team due to consistent programs beung undertaken?

There has been a lot more interest in schools, it is good to have more female role models, and now some of the members of the female team come to different training sessions which has helped obtain some more interest from young girls who now have some Peruvian role models to aspire to.

Within schools we find there are a lot of young girls who are becoming more inspired to get involved with the programs outside of their schools classes.

8. Which international cricketers do you admire the most as an individual?

I mean it is hard because you don’t really ever know your idols or know them as individuals, but growing up two of my main idols were Glenn McGrath and Alistair Cook. I just loved the way they played the game and their attitude and the spirit they showed. They were two big role models for me growing up.

The first female cricketer I really ever knew about and met was Mel Jones when I was 12. She has always been an inspiration for me and has paved an incredible path for women’s cricket in the struggles women’s cricket has gone through over the years.

For me there have been many exemplar cricket players I have come across, but the ones that have had a strong impact on me have really shown the spirit of cricket on and off the field.

Image from Cricket Peru

9. In 2019, the South American championships were hosted by Peru, held in Lima. How essential was that exposure for the national team according to you?

I think it was pretty important, it was the first time really any of the other South American countries were able to see true blue Peruvian cricket players because in almost all other South American Championships none of the nationals were able to afford to come.

This is why it was such an important event. For the first time our Peruvian girls had a stage.

10. Can you take us through the training sessions conducted for the teams, both at local and national level? How is the spirit of the players?

Generally with the national teams there is always some strength and conditioning and fitness at
the beginning of the session, fitness is hugely important for a national team if you want to be at an elite level so it has to be a focus, not only in the training but also outside of training.

If it is a general training session there are normally certain things which must be ticked off such as bowling, batting and fielding components/exercises. It is hard when you have a lot of people and not as many coaches, but the objective is to try and keep the individual and team progressing together.

We don’t have as many resources as other countries, but I think we are doing our best. With the national teams we try to work more on biomechanical exercises to help the teams understand the fundamental movements of batting, bowling, and fielding as many of them have
started learning these movements and techniques a lot later in life.

The players have a good spirit, they are willing to learn and throw themselves into the deep end learning very foreign concepts, not only in the physical part of the game but the mental and strategic part of the game
so we are very proud of that energy and willingness to persevere in spite of the limitations that are presented to them.

11. Tell us a motto that you follow in life, that strives you to do better each day.

The greatest things never come from comfort zones- find your edge and expand your potencial.

Thank you so much Samantha for conducting this interview with us. We wish you the best in all your endeavours.