Opinion: Issy Wong is on track to become one of the all-time greats

Its always a good week when a women’s test match is on.

Its an even better week, however, when the likes of Issy Wong make their international debut in that test match.

After joining the squad as a late Covid-19 replacement, she fulfilled a self-confessed 'dream’ after making her debut again South Africa. 

"It's something that I've probably been dreaming of since I started playing cricket when I was five so just to be able to live that dream has been really special this week," said Wong.

“My mum had a little cry, my dad didn't. It was something I wasn't expecting at all.”

"It hasn't sunk in yet to be honest but I'm sure in the next couple of weeks or so I can put my feet up for a couple of days then it will begin to sink in a little bit."

A success story on every level

The England Cricket Board (ECB) will be relishing Wong’s successes on and off the field.

Wong serves as a timely reminder of the benefits of increasing diversity and fostering inclusion in the game. 

Given her Cantonese heritage, taken in conjunction with the drive to put women’s cricket at the forefront of English cricket, she will surely serve as inspiration for aspiring fast bowler. 

As the saying goes, you've got to see it to be.

The route to her first cap can't be overlooked either.

At the ripe old age of six she became involved in an after-school Chance to Shine cricket program run by her primary school, making her (alongside Lauren Bell)  the one of the first players to compete the full Chance to Shine programme and subsequently represent England.

Are there many better metrics which define the success of a grassroots programme than its ability to (eventually) produce international players?

Maturity Beyond Years

In just four days of rain affected cricket, Wong has asserted herself as one of, if not the, most exciting prospects in international women’s cricket.

Her performance on the field is one thing. In this match, at least, she was the coveted ‘point of difference’ in England’s bowling attack, her extra pace giving her that illusive golden arm with which she took  two crucial wickets late on the second day 2. 

Not bad for a first taste of international test cricket, hey?

Perhaps more impressive still is her response to this performance - she's not been tempted to get ahead of herself despite having every right to do so.

"I’m really enjoying it, probably didn't think it was going to happen until a couple of days ago so just trying to - I guess not think too much about it and just enjoy it for this one, but equally trying to impact the game as much as I can."

Don’t take it from her - or me for that matter - take it from Warwickshire's high-performance manager Paul Greetham, a man who has overseen Wong’s development as a player from a young age.

"From a very early age she had this obvious desire to bowl quicker than anybody else, particularly, and as her batting's developed, she's learnt she can hit the ball quite a long way as well, so she's always had a bit of X-factor about her, and always shown a high level of ambition without coming across as arrogant or cocky ...

I can remember as a 12- or 13-year-old she was stating that she wanted to be the fastest women's bowler ever. She's always had that about her.

The other thing that I think sort of set her apart is that she always seemed very comfortable playing amongst boys, and she wasn't just satisfied with playing alongside them, she wanted to beat them. I've always admired that about her."

An all-time great in the making

Humility, unrivalled ambition, a monstrous work ethic and an ‘X-Factor’.

While nothing is guaranteed, these characteristics are essential if a young pretender is to flourish in the unforgiving world of elite sport. 

Wong has these in spades, and she's just 20.

Injury permitting, a caveat that must always be taken into consideration with fast bowlers, Wong has all the characteristics necessary to make herself into one of the greatest bowlers to have ever graced the game.

Only time will tell if she is to become one of the all-time greats.

But with her approach to the game, continued support from the ECB and a healthy dose of luck, she has the chance to cement her place in the history books.

Hopefully we will look back in years to come and realise a fortuitous debut against South Africa would become the first step in one of the most illustrious careers the women's game has ever seen.


Be the first to comment on this posting!

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
© 2022 Just The Cricket