Sterre Kalis interview: A mission to ‘inspire women in Holland to pick up cricket’

Isaac Lockett talks to Dutch international Sterre Kalis about her career so far and about the development of women's cricket.

With the English domestic season recently coming to a conclusion, Netherlands cricket star Sterre Kalis’ successful adventure in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy has also come to an end.

Her performances for the Northern Diamonds add credence to the growing call for Associate women’s players to be given opportunities in Full Member domestic competitions.

Kalis was the only Dutch international taking part in the tournament, with Scottish representatives Sarah and Kathryn Bryce also flying the flag for Associate nations as members of the Loughborough Lightning.

Emerging Cricket had the opportunity to sit down with Kalis to find out more about her cricket journey, the best moments of her career, women’s cricket in The Netherlands, her time in England, and her goals for the future.

Sterre Kalis in action for The Netherlands during the 2019 World Cup Qualifier against Ireland (Photo: ICC)

Kalis started playing cricket when she ‘was about 5 years old’. Kalis reflected that ‘my brother played cricket and when he was playing a game I always had to come. I started to throw some balls and practice my swing on the sidelines and after years of that I loved it too!’.

From this initial love for the sport, Kalis made her debut for the Netherlands aged 14 during a European qualification tournament and has since gone on to solidify her place in the national team. 

However, Kalis has always been determined to take her cricket career to another level, stating that ‘when I finished high school, all I wanted to do was play cricket overseas’. This determination and passion for the sport saw her decide to travel to Australia to pursue her dream.

Initially playing in Tasmania, Kalis went on to further success. When asked about her impressive rise in the sport, Kalis recalled that ‘in December 2018 I signed a rookie contract with the Sydney Thunder. That was such a great experience to train and play with the best in the world!’

‘At the end of the season in Tasmania, I got a phone call from the head coach of the Queensland Fire asking if I wanted to come over for a trial session. After a week or so they wanted to offer me a one-year professional contract. So, the following year I travelled to Brisbane to play for Queensland.’ Then, last year, Kalis was invited to play cricket in Melbourne for the season, before moving on to the Diamonds for the English summer.

Kalis considers breaking a world-record a defining moment in her career so far. On the 27th June 2019, The Netherlands faced Germany at La Manga Club Ground in Spain during the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Europe Region Qualifiers. Kalis opened the batting for the Dutch team and finished on 126* off 76 balls, including ten boundaries and five sixes. It set a new record for the highest individual score in a Women’s T20 International. While Australia’s Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning have since gone on to make higher scores, Kailis’ haul remains the third-highest in WT20Is, and also puts her in an illustrious group of players who have scored a WT20I century. 

Sterre Kalis celebrating her 100 against Germany during 2019 (Photo: ICC)
Women’s cricket in the Netherlands

In talking about the current perception of women’s cricket in the Netherlands, Kalis reflects that women’s cricket ‘is not really a very known game’. She explains that the country’s sporting landscape is dominated by football and hockey, and with cricket not being on television, it does not get much exposure. However despite its challenges, ‘cricket is growing and more girls are starting to play it’. And alongside the development of women’s cricket as a whole, governing bodies including the Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Bond (KNCB) are keen for strong on-field results.

Kalis gives Emerging Cricket an insight into the schedule of a Dutch women’s international.

‘We most likely play two tournaments a year, a European Qualifier and a World Cup Qualifier. Those tournaments take place around the world, so playing for the Dutch team has brought me to many different places. Loads of other countries around us are starting to professionalise, which I think is really important to be able to compete with the best in the world.’

‘Women’s cricket globally is expanding at an exciting rate and is flourishing globally which is fantastic for the game but efforts must be maintained to ensure that the growth is sustainable’.

Kalis remarks on a key perk of being an international cricketer in a rapidly professionalising environment. Travel has meant that Kalis has had the opportunity to ‘learn a lot about different cultures and met different people all over the world.’

The RHF Trophy great experience

Focusing on the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, Kalis appreciates that playing for the Northern Diamonds ‘was a great experience.’ She says ‘being part of the professional environment and learning from the best players and coaches’ was invaluable.’

Recalling her progress during the tournament, she notes ‘I personally had a very tough start … I started my first 3 games with a duck and was really struggling. Although every game other teammates stood up and lifted the batting/bowling inning to a next level! I really tried to not give up, stick to my plans and keep training really hard to show what I am capable of’.

Sterre Kalis in action for the Northern Diamonds during this year’s Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy (Photo: John Heald)

However, Kalis’ season picked up. ‘I showed resilience and scored three fifties in a row…and our team got to the final’.

The final itself was between the Northern Diamonds and the Southern Vipers, and although Kalis shone again with 55, her innings was not enough for victory. Along the way, the Diamonds played some high-quality cricket and displayed positive team spirit meaning that they have a lot to be proud of. 

Kalis also acknowledges the support of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and ‘everyone else who managed to help organise six games in late August/September’ as it is not often easy to play games that late on in the year given the English summer.

The ability to ‘play in such amazing cricket stadiums and on really good pitches was a great experience’ that Kalis also takes away from her experience. The tournament itself captured the attention of many English cricket fans. SkySports broadcast the final live and a reported 1.8 million viewers tuned in to watch the high-quality conclusion to the tournament. When speaking about the viewership, the Dutch international states that ‘it really shows how much women’s cricket is growing and how much exposure it gets at the moment!’

The Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy was played across women’s cricket month in England, which runs throughout September. Kalis believes ‘it is such an important initiative because the women’s cricket month will be used to showcase stories in the women’s game and encourage more women and girls to play, watch or attend cricket’.

Kalis on Kallis

Growing up, Kalis’ role model was South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis, and she ‘always wanted to be as good as him’. However, as her journey through cricket continues, Kalis would like to be a role model to others. She says ‘I would like to inspire women in Holland to pick up cricket. The team sport can be played for competition or socially. It’s a great way to meet new people. You develop social skills such as cooperation, communication and how to cope with winning and losing. You also develop hand-eye coordination. Cricket is a summer sport so you can easily combine it with hockey or football or any other winter sport!’ 

Whilst Kalis is grateful to everybody that has helped her so far along her journey, she is particular thankful to Shaun Martyn and Fairbreak Global. ‘Fairbreak is and has been very important in my development as a cricketer. I would like to thank them and highlight their fantastic work for gender equality in cricket around the world and for giving me all of the support and possibilities to train and play a high level where ever I am!’. 

Sterre Kalis celebrating one of her half century’s for the Northern Diamonds during the 2020 Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy (Photo: John Heald)

Kalis’ journey is only just starting and the player has a long and exciting future ahead. She will be one to keep an eye on as women’s cricket continues to go from strength to strength across the globe.

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