A TEENAGE cricketer from the district is helping to raise the profile of women’s cricket in Germany after making her international debut.

Emma Bargna (14) was born in Germany, but spent part of her childhood in Wylam before returning to Munich due to her British parents’ work commitments.

The youngster was introduced to cricket when her mum Claire played for the women’s team at Wylam, and the pair now play for the Bavarian Cricket Academy.

Despite her youthfulness, Emma has quickly established herself as a regular for the German senior international women’s side, and she made a cameo appearance at Prior’s Flat, the home of Hexham-based Tynedale Cricket Club, last week.

Michael Thewlis, the former Northumberland county player, coaches the German women’s team, and arranged for Emma to play for Ashington ladies against Tynedale.

She was on the winning side, scoring 18 runs not out, and bowling five overs in the match, which was an opportunity for her to play cricket on a high standard grass surface.

“It was a fantastic experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Emma. “It was very different to what I am used to in Germany.”

While there are several women’s teams in Munich and elsewhere, cricket is not a mainstream sport in Germany.

Emma and her teammates play on wickets made out of artificial grass, or woodchip with coconut matting, which means spinning the ball is not an option. A lack of practice facilities is also an issue.

“I really love the game of cricket and I want to make more people in Germany aware of its merits,” she said.

“I did a presentation about cricket at school, and having the chance to come back to England to play has broadened my knowledge further.”

While in the district last week, Emma visited her grandparents at Fourstones with other family members.

Her brother, George (12) focuses on basketball at school in Munich because cricket isn’t an option.

Their granddad Ken Page said: “Michael Thewlis has already made a lot of progress in growing the game. A few weeks ago, the German women’s team took part in their first ICC registered competitive matches, when they played Twenty20 games against Scotland and the Netherlands.

“It enabled Emma, at the age of 14, to open the bowling in Germany’s first ever competitive match, taking two wickets in her first two overs.”

Coach Thewlis is supported by Monika Loveday, a former South Northumberland player who is now the German team manager, and is vice president of the German Cricket Association.

Claire said: “They have done such a lot to grow the game, and we are so grateful for the opportunities Emma has had.

“She has taken those opportunities, and it’s great for me to be in the same club team as my daughter, and to play under her captaincy.”