SHE never got the winter sunshine she had been hoping but, that aside, this hasn’t been a bad year at all for cricketer Kathryn Bryce.

Scotland head coach Steven Knox believes Bryce and her sister Sarah already belong in the world-class category, a bold statement but one that can be easily qualified through recent developments.

The sisters have been awarded regional domestic contracts by the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] for 2021 – two of just 41 players to enjoy that status – and were each nominated for the ICC Women’s Associate Cricketer of the Decade, with Kathryn named as the winner last weekend.

The ICC T20I rankings also have the duo both listed as 13th best on the planet in their respective specialities – Kathryn for all-rounders, and Sarah for batting.

They were also able to enhance those burgeoning reputations playing last summer with Lightning Cricket in the prestigious Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, another valuable learning experience.

“We’ve been lucky enough to play with quite a few different international players in the English domestic game and last year against some of the best overseas players,” said Kathryn.

“The standard of competition was so high that it just pushes your performance and training over this winter period as you just want to push on and improve as much as possible.

“It drives your game forward as you know your margin for error is so small against those international players. You just have to be so focused. And when you come back to play for Scotland you bring that experience with you.

“It’s an incredible thing to be a part of the next step in developing the women’s game. Growing up, if you wanted to be professional you had to play for one of the top international teams.

“Now to have that next level for girls to strive for and realise it’s an actual possibility to make playing cricket a career – even if it’s not quite at the top level – is a real inspiration.”

The Scotland captain had been set to lead her country against Ireland in two 50-over matches and three T20Is at the La Manga complex last month only for it to be postponed at short notice due to Covid-related complications.

The hope remains that it can be rearranged for the spring, another date in what Bryce hopes will be a busy 2021 both personally and for the national team.

Tenth-placed Ireland sit three spots higher than Scotland in the ICC T20 world rankings and Bryce admits there is a determination to try to bridge that gap while taking Scotland to the next level.

“Over the past five or so years they’ve always been that one step ahead of us,” added the 23 year-old.

“So we’re just pushing as much as we can to stay with them and try to get closer to that level. It’s exciting that they’ve got a few contracted players in their squad which gives them an opportunity to train more often.

“That’s the aim for the future for Scottish cricket, to provide more of a platform for players to be able to play and train together as much as we can.

“Hopefully we will qualify for a World Cup one day soon. That’s the big aim at the moment. Just trying to get to that next level so we can play more competitive games against a higher standard of games.

“And that point you can look to really push on as a squad. That’s when you start to get properly recognised when you’re at a World Cup and testing yourself against the best.”

Bryce is young for a national team captain but the Edinburgh-born player says she’s happier inspiring others with her actions rather than her words.

“I’ve enjoyed taking on that responsibility of trying to take the team to that next level,” she admits. “When you’re younger you almost just take it in your stride a bit and get on with it. I’ve definitely grown a lot in the last few years as captain and hopefully I can keep developing in the role.

“I’m not the most vocal in the middle or in the dressing room. I prefer to lead by my performances and by setting an example rather than any particular words. I’m definitely not one for big speeches!

“But we’ve got a lot coming up next summer and plenty of opportunities. It will be good just to get everyone back together and playing again.”