Sophia Smale: Will school be out for teenage Welsh bowler after starring at Lord’s?

Sophia Smale of Oval Invincibles celebrates
Sophie Smale’s family have strong cricketing connections

There cannot be many good excuses for skipping your first day back at school.

But for rising cricket star Sophia Smale the chance to enhance her growing reputation might just be acceptable to her teachers.

The 17-year-old hopes to be in action at Hove for Western Storm against Southern Vipers in the one-day, 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy competition.

That will be the Newport schoolgirl’s first appearance since playing a crucial role for Oval Invincibles, as they beat Southern Brave to win the women’s Hundred at Lord’s on Saturday.

“There’s a Western Storm game at Hove on Friday so we’re travelling down on Thursday, so I’m not sure if I’m going to school yet, depending on if I get in that,” Smale told BBC Radio Wales.

“But I will be back in school on Monday (12 September).”

When she rejoins her classmates, Smale will have a tale of sporting prowess to tell that culminated in her taking the wicket of Smriti Mandhana, one of Brave’s brightest talents.

It was a moment that sparked memorable celebrations as Smale gestured to her grandfather, Malcolm Price, who was watching proudly from the stands.

“I remember getting a wicket and the girls were like, ‘oh, where’s Grampa?’ I just pointed up to him – I don’t know if he actually saw me do it because he was probably quite far away, but I did give him a bit of a fist pump from afar,” said Smale.

Cue the moment for Grampa to also share in Sophia’s moment of glory, in a heartwarming interview you can watch here:

“It was such a nice moment for him,” said Smale.

She added: “It was unreal to even walk out onto the pitch, but when we were batting it was very tense and I think I was cheering on every run possible until we finally got over the line, and I think I don’t know what happened – the celebrations were straight away.”

Smale had gone from impressing for Storm to appearing at Lord’s in the Hundred for Invincibles as a late injury call-up.

“I got picked for Western Storm, which is the regional team which is obviously Wales and the South West.

“My mum got a call from Jonathan Batty, who’s head coach, and he said I was the best bowler who wasn’t picked in the Hundred and I wasn’t really expecting to play.

“I was expecting just to be sat on the side as an injury replacement. You don’t expect to be in the XI every week, but I performed well in a game, one of the warm-up games, against the Brave actually, and just from there.

“And I guess that’s why I’m not in the Welsh Fire. I was a late injury replacement.”

Smale describes 2022 as her “break-out season” and can perhaps expect many more to follow – although she may have to balance her studies and cricket for a little while yet.

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