A rising star in women's cricket
5 October 2006
Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent, a fourth-year MSci student (UCL Chemistry), has a big year ahead of her.
Ebony began playing cricket at the age of 10, at a community cricket initiative held at her primary school in Herne Hill, South London. As the only female, she had to continue her coaching at the Oval cricket ground, where the Surrey county side has a girl's team. Her talents were soon recognised, and by the age of 14 she was playing for junior England sides. At senior level, she played in two one-day internationals for England, as well as at club level, in Super Fours games (featuring the 48 best players in the country) and in invitational games for Marylebone Cricket Club.
Within the England squad she plays as a bowler, but at County level she is a strong all-rounder, opening the batting for Surrey, where her best innings is 63 not out at the Oval. At club level she has achieved a highest innings of 125 runs.
However, in summer 2005, disaster struck. Just before sitting her third-year exams at UCL she suffered serious pain in her back and discovered she had two prolapsed discs - the result of years of over-exertion as a bowler. Dropping out of her exams, and only returning to university to sit them the following year, she began a period of intensive recuperation, with regular physiotherapy alongside a tough regime of strength and conditioning work.
She said: "I spent a lot of time in the gym working to improve core stability by strengthening the muscles around my spine. I also did a lot of weights for my legs. Muscle deteriorates quickly when you stop competing and training, so it was important to keep up the work."
As she completes her recovery, she is focusing on the forthcoming calendar for the England Test side: "England will go on tour to India in February, which I would love to be fully fit for if possible. If not, New Zealand are coming here in the summer, and I definitely want to be in the side for that."
At 22, Ebony is now entering her final year at UCL, and will have to cope with a gruelling training schedule in order to be ready for next season's games. Typically, she goes to the gym four times a week alongside two or three training sessions with Surrey in Guildford - all in between lectures and lab work for her degree. During the summer she expects to be playing three days a week and in the gym twice a week.
She is helped, however, by some funding she was recently awarded by the National Lottery, organised through the England and Wales Cricket Board, which covers sporting costs such as coaching and gym membership. She is also the first cricketer of either sex to gain sponsorship from Pro-kit, a company which supplies her with all her equipment.
Ebony is not the only promising young women's cricketer at UCL. Isa Guha, has been in the England squad for some years now, and Ebony is keen to join her there.
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