Three years ago, Kim Garth made the decision to travel the world to fulfill her dream. Now she is ready to play for Australia at the World Cup.
That alone would be amazing, but when you add in his exploits with Ireland, his travels during the Covid pandemic and his historic status – it’s truly extraordinary.
Garth was already a star in Ireland having made his senior debut aged 14. She has won 114 caps, served as vice-captain and was named Irish Cricketer of the Decade in 2021 – eight months after ending her international career.
With no professionalism for Irish women to make cricket their career, a move to Australia in 2020 was a ‘now or never’ decision.
The 26-year-old added that she had “a little taste” of cricket in Australia after spending several winters there playing in the Women’s Big Bash League and club cricket, and that it was a ” very big decision” to give up his career in Ireland. .
“I really wanted to play cricket for a living and not have to work another job,” said Garth, who now plays for the Melbourne Stars and Victoria.
“The lifestyle in Australia was a big draw. It would take me a few years to qualify as a local player, but I didn’t want to look back with regrets.
“I’m certainly very happy with the decision I’ve made.”
Getting around the world is already a big step, but Garth embarked on her life-changing journey as the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the world.
“The day I was offered a contract [with Victoria] was the day Australia closed the borders,” she added.
“I remember looking online and they were talking about six months. Two and a half years later the borders were still not open, so it was definitely very difficult.
“We were very lucky to be able to train at Covid. If we hadn’t been able to train, I probably would have gone home.
“I got busy and finally got to see my family last April for the first time in several years. It was definitely not an easy time.”
“I have never been so nervous”
Garth’s performances for Victoria and the Stars led to an Australian call-up against India in December weeks after she became eligible.
A debut for the best team in the world is always special, and her parents had traveled to Mumbai and were on the pitch when she received her first cap.
Garth had made thousands of cricket deliveries, but she said ‘I can safely say I’ve never been so nervous’ as she rode in Australian colors for the first time.
“There were 25,000 people there. You couldn’t hear the person next to you talking,” Garth said, adding that sometimes she can’t believe she’s teammates with ‘superstars’ .
“In National cricket I usually play first, but I didn’t in this game and it was the longest ever. Honestly, I was about to get sick.
“It was pretty intense, but my first win only lasted six, which was pretty good, so once that was done, my nerves calmed down.
“When you’re on the biggest stage, playing for the best team in the world against arguably the next best team in the world, it’s pretty nerve-wracking.”
“No one can take it away from me”
Since Garth left for Australia, positive steps have been taken to ensure that women can achieve their professional dreams in Ireland.
Cricket Ireland has now awarded players professional contracts and plans to build a dedicated stadium in Dublin could ‘transform’ the game.
“It’s really tough for Irish cricket. You can’t do much against the bigger nations,” Garth said of his home country.
“It’s chalk and cheese. The playing pool is much bigger in countries like Australia and India and the national structures in place are so strong.
“I think Irish cricket has taken steps in the right direction. You can see the improvement in terms of performance on the pitch.”
Garth says she is “very happy” to avoid a World Cup meeting with Ireland after being drawn into separate groups, but the teams will play a pre-tournament warm-up match and Australia are expected to make a tour of Ireland after the Ashes in June.
The Dubliner admits she would “absolutely love to be in” the squad for the summer tour, but all attention is on the next tournament in South Africa where she hopes defending champions Australia “can go until the end”.
In one final piece of history, Garth is set to become the first woman to play at the T20 World Cups for two different countries.
“I haven’t researched it too much, but obviously it’s a pretty unique thing,” Garth added.
“Since winning my selection, I’ve had some time to reflect.
“There were times, including playing in front of 40,000 people in India, where it was extraordinary.
“No one can ever take that away from me. Whether I don’t play another game for Australia or play another 30, 40 or 50 games – it’s something I will always have with me, which is pretty cool.”