The Hundred: Carla Rudd on her specialist keeper role and balancing two jobs

Southern Brave wicketkeeper Carla Rudd
Carla Rudd has impressed behind the stumps for Southern Brave in The Hundred
Women’s Hundred eliminator: Southern Brave v Trent Rockets
Date: 2 September Venue: Ageas Bowl Time: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two and iPlayer, with radio and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

At 8am and with a Hundred match that afternoon, most cricketers might simply be having breakfast before heading to the ground.

Southern Brave wicketkeeper Carla Rudd isn’t your average cricketer, however.

Rudd combines playing for Brave and the dominant Southern Vipers regional team with her role as head of girls’ cricket at Felsted School in Essex.

A quirk of the fixture list meant Brave had matches on both A-level and GCSE results day, which made Rudd’s matchday routine a little different from usual.

Rudd, who also teaches physical education, says: “At 8am, I signed on to the school portal to check the students’ grades. I have a massive interest in it as obviously I want them to do well, so I’m juggling two jobs, even on gameday. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The 28-year-old might not have ended up in either profession if it hadn’t been for a teacher of her own.

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“It was my PE teacher who put me forward for trials at Sussex. Without her influence, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she says.

“I was so lucky to have such an inspirational teacher. Sport gave me an identity growing up and I really wanted to get into teaching and coaching to ensure young girls and boys had the same opportunities to have fun playing sport that I did.”

Rudd’s progression through the ranks at Sussex brought her into contact with Sarah Taylor, who is three years her senior and is widely regarded as one of the best wicketkeepers ever. But Taylor’s presence was a double-edged sword.

Rudd says: “I was very lucky to train alongside Sarah and everything about her inspired me to keep pushing to try to achieve what she’s achieved. But there was a stage where I realised I needed to move elsewhere to progress my career, so I went to Berkshire and became first-choice wicketkeeper, which gave me the experience I needed to get to the next level.”

Sarah Taylor, Welsh Fire
Former England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor inspired Rudd in their time together at Sussex

Over a decade on from leaving Sussex and seven years after being dropped from the England Academy, partly due to concerns over her batting, Rudd has come full circle.

She’s been back at her home county since 2019, and is relishing her role as a specialist wicketkeeper for Brave.

“My role in the team is really clear and I’ve been told by (coach) Charlotte Edwards that she really values my position,” says Rudd.

“The Hundred is so quick that there might be a sharp stumping chance or catch off the opposition’s main batter that you need a specialist to take, but which might be missed by an average wicketkeeper who is more of a batter.”

Brave’s batting line-up is so strong that Rudd is listed to come in at number 11.

The presence of England batters Danni Wyatt, Sophia Dunkley and Maia Bouchier, as well as overseas stars such as India’s Smriti Mandhana and Australia’s Tahlia McGrath, means Rudd has only batted once so far in this season’s tournament, facing two balls in Brave’s shock defeat to Northern Superchargers.

She was only required on two occasions last year, one of which was during Brave’s defeat to Oval Invincibles in the final, where they collapsed to 73 all out after topping the group stage.

However, Rudd’s excellent glovework has been key to Brave’s continued success, including a brilliant stumping to remove England’s Nat Sciver in their recent 10-wicket win over Trent Rockets.

Rudd’s wicketkeeping colleagues in The Hundred often bat in the top order – including players like Alyssa Healy, Lauren Winfield-Hill and Amy Jones.

Rudd says: “I think lots of teams in The Hundred will be looking at us and analysing what it is that makes us so strong. We’ve got great specialists all the way through the side. We know exactly what our roles are, which gives us excellent clarity when we’re out there on the field.”

As well as playing in arguably the strongest women’s domestic sides in the country, Rudd’s work at Felsted means she has had a hand in bringing through potential stars of the future.

She picks out young wicketkeeper Jess Olorenshaw as one to watch. Olorenshaw, who recently made her debut for the Sunrisers regional team, would have lined up against her teacher in July’s 50-over game against Vipers had Rudd not injured her finger.

Rudd says: “Her name’s definitely in the frame for the Under-19 T20 World Cup (in South Africa in 2023). She has so much natural ability. The Hundred is really encouraging talented players to push on in cricket and believe that they can have a career in the game.”

As Rudd prepares to take up a new role as Director of Sport at The Leys School in Cambridge, you can be sure she will be delighted if Olorenshaw isn’t the only former pupil she comes up against on the cricket field.

She might even have a Hundred winner’s medal to show her new charges.

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