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EXCLUSIVE: “I Love Playing For My Country And I Want To Play For As Long As I Can”- Chloe Tryon

Chloe Tryon is a dynamic force in South African women’s cricket, and she has epitomized resilience and excellence throughout her career. From her early days playing cricket with the boys to becoming a stalwart in the national team, Chloe has seamlessly integrated her power-hitting prowess with strategic bowling skills, making her an indispensable asset to the squad.

Despite grappling with injuries that temporarily sidelined her during the recent ODI and one-off Test matches against India recently, Chloe’s return for the upcoming T20I series signifies not just her personal triumph over adversity but also her crucial role in bolstering South Africa’s campaign.

Speaking to Women’s CricInsight after a lengthy layoff, Chloe Tryon is back on the field, and the excitement is palpable. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she shares her feelings about rejoining the team. “Obviously, you want to be playing games across the world and India is right up there,” she begins, reflecting on the challenges of working back home and the anticipation of returning to international cricket.

“It was a bit tough to work back home. I wish I was part of it. I was really excited to be coming here. I got to work a lot back home which is really exciting. I knew what was going to be up again for us to hit the field. I’m just really excited to be here firstly. I’m just taking it one step at a time. It’s keeping it nice and simple. The excitement will get ever better once Friday comes.” For Tryon, it’s about taking it one step at a time and keeping things simple. The thrill of finally stepping onto the field on Friday is evident in her voice.

Reflecting on the recent ODI series and the one-off Test, Tryon highlights the tough conditions in India. “Firstly, coming to India, it’s obviously really tough conditions. It’s a really tough tour but I feel like we played really good cricket in patches. That second game almost getting that close. It’s really tough but there’s so much you can take from that. There’s so many positives you can take from that,” she notes. The resilience of the team, especially bouncing back from challenging situations, stands out to her.

“You don’t see them on the field but like I said, if we could just give it more consistency in the way we go about things. The test match, the first day was really tough. We could see that it was tough and to come back on day three and day four and do that. Exceptional. I grew up watching Test Cricket. I always wanted to be part of it.”

Chloe Tryon is a vehement advocate for women's test cricket [Image: Getty]
Chloe Tryon is a vehement advocate for women’s test cricket [Image: Getty]
Watching the fight and character displayed by her teammates in the Test match was particularly inspiring, reminding her of her own experiences in the 2014 Test. “I was part of the one in 2014 when it was really tough and we had to fight to the last day. I was really eating to be here but to see the fight from every single better on day four. Filled a lot of character and you can just take so many positives from that and transfer it into T20. It was fantastic to watch.” The determination shown on day four of the Test match was, in her words, “exceptional” and filled with character.

Tryon is a strong advocate for more Test matches in women’s cricket. “100%,” she exclaims, recounting her childhood memories of watching the Boxing Day Test in South Africa.

“I grew up watching Test Cricket. I would sit because, in South Africa, we have a boxing test match that runs from the 26th of December to the end of December. So I would sit all day every day, and wake up early in the morning just to watch. I just enjoy watching it and then to be part of it a lot more now is fantastic. I’m a big advocate of having more test cricket.” 

Test cricket, for Tryon, is a unique challenge that teaches patience and resilience. She hopes for more opportunities to play in this format, appreciating the depth it adds to her understanding of the game. “I think it’s just a big challenge. It’s a different format. You learn a lot about your game as well. A lot of patience. Just working through all those emotions and stuff. I quite enjoy so hopefully more to come. But yeah, it’s just exciting that we’re getting a lot more test cricket.”

Playing for Mumbai Indians in the Women’s Premier League (WPL) has been an enriching experience for Tryon, even though game time has been limited. “Whenever you’re sitting on the sidelines, you focus a lot more on your game,” she explains. “I got time to reflect when I got back home obviously with the injury. I had a lot more time. Take as much time as I want to and really just integrate all the things I need to focus on as being a full-on all-rounder.” This period allowed her to reflect, recover from injuries, and work intensively on her skills with the National Academy team in Victoria.

Chloe Tryon in MI colours at the WPL [Image: Getty]
Chloe Tryon in MI colours at the WPL [Image: Getty]
“It was just nice to work with those players, to work with some of the Under-19 girls as well just to help them with it. It was great for me to just completely sit down and be like, this is what I need to work on. This is what I need to do and just full-on work on it. I feel like I’m in a good spot now.” She values the time spent with coaches and young players, helping her refine her game and grow as an all-rounder.

The excitement of being picked by Mumbai Indians was a surreal moment for Tryon, who found out while on the team bus during the T20 World Cup in South Africa. “It was very exciting. I didn’t expect the first time to get picked. I was actually on the bus. We were at the T20 World Cup, obviously, in South Africa. We were playing New Zealand. I never watched the auction. I just thought, if it’s meant to be, it will be,” she enthuses. “The group has been fantastic. It’s unfortunate that this season, we just fell short. The environment is just really good. I saw how Harmanpreet [Kaur] made it so welcoming for everyone. It feels like a really big family. I think whenever they talk about the family, you don’t really know it until you experience it. It was a great team to be part of. It’s just exciting.”

Working under Charlotte Edwards and being part of a welcoming environment made it a special experience, even though the team fell short in the season. The sense of family within the team was a highlight for Tryon.

Chloe Tryon with Nita Ambani, the owner of Mumbai Indians after WPL-1 [Image: Getty]
Chloe Tryon with Nita Ambani, the owner of Mumbai Indians after WPL-1 [Image: Getty]
Tryon believes that playing in different leagues around the globe has been crucial for her development. “Yes, it’s always exciting to play with different leagues. I’ve always had this conversation with some of the girls and it really helps you to trigger them. Some players have only worked with one coach. I feel like once you’ve brought in a team, you’ve played with different leagues and you get to work with different coaches. Sometimes they pick up something that maybe you haven’t picked up in your game. They really honestly help you along the way,” she says, emphasizing the value of learning from various coaches and adapting to different playing conditions.

“I always get excited because I feel like whenever I go somewhere I learn. Maybe it’s something that I could be doing with my batting or with my bowling. You take those smaller things and those smaller things make a big difference. I’m always excited that I get to play because I feel like it just helps me grow as a player. It helps me to recognise certain things that I need to work on. When I go back home, I can refresh, reset and focus on a couple of things I need to work on. It really just makes you step up a level.” These experiences have helped her grow as a player, recognizing areas to improve and refining her skills to compete at higher levels.

Reflecting on her career, Tryon finds it challenging to pinpoint a single turning point. “There’s a lot. It’s been a long time. It’s been a long career. I will sit back after the tour and I think back of all the time.”  India has been a special and happy hunting ground for her, she further adds, “I’m back in India again and in 2014 after losing the test match, winning ODI series 2-1 and making my first 50. India was the first place I made my first 50 in my career. You look back at those little things. I think my turning point, I’m really just trying to pull it out of the hat.”

Chloe Tryon is a consistent beast for the Proteas for a decade and more [Image: Getty]
Chloe Tryon is a consistent beast for the Proteas for a decade and more [Image: Getty]
However, she acknowledges the consistency she has developed over the past few years. “But I feel the last two to three years I feel like I’ve been a lot more consistent. You know, throughout my career, coming into the young play, you want to find your peace,” she says, understanding her game and mindset more clearly now. “That’s always what I’ve been trying to do is making sure that I’m being consistent as much as I can. I understand my game a lot more now. I understand situations whether it’s on the field or batting are just being in a clear and better mindset. I think that comes with a lot of experience.” This growth, combined with the experience and resilience built over her long career, defines her journey.

The transformation of South African women’s cricket since Tryon started at 16 is significant. From semi-professional beginnings to competing with the best in the world, the progress has been remarkable. “If you look back when I started at 16, we weren’t really much as a group like we were. We weren’t like the Australians and the English like full-on training. We didn’t really have that. We kind of had to fight for all those things. Then we became semi-professional and professional. Now we can really just narrow down and work on skill. I feel like the skill has developed,” she notes.

The exposure to international leagues has played a crucial role in this growth, helping players develop and compete at higher levels. “If you even look at the game itself, you know, back then 110 was a winning score. Sometimes even 105. And now that’s something they were making in the first 10-11 overs of the game. So, the game itself has just changed a lot. I feel like the skill of women’s cricket has just grown so much. It also helps with the leagues. Once you get into that exposure of not just playing in your country, but playing in a different league, you see the growth. 

She further added, “The likes of Nadine de Klerk has been up and coming and you look how these leagues being able to play them has changed the game and made the game go forward. I think that’s an excellent example of the growth that is shown. I feel like it’s really important, but if you look into that, because the growth that we’ve shown as a team has been fantastic, making a final against Australia [in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023]. So we have achieved big milestones. There’s still a lot more we can do, but we’re right there. We’re right there against the best in the world. It just shows the growth in the country.”

Chloe Tryon believes that the 2023 T20 World Cup was a tough pill to swallow but gave a lot of positives [Image: Getty]
Chloe Tryon believes that the 2023 T20 World Cup was a tough pill to swallow but gave a lot of positives [Image: Getty]
The near-miss in the 2023 T20 World Cup at home was a tough pill to swallow for Tryon and her teammates. “It was a tough process for me personally. I think we felt a lot of heartache in 2017 in England [the ICC Women’s ODI World Cup where South Africa was knocked off in the semi-final]. I never thought that I would feel the way that I did then, that I felt even worse here, you know, being a home final, getting so close. You know, I always say we rather just lose by like a lot then, then look by like a little bit and it’s, it’s still small, more or less,” she admits.

The support from the nation and the pride in inspiring young players helped mitigate the disappointment. “I think once we had time off from that, but I think right after that, you know, we had a lot of stuff to do as a team and to see everyone so proud of us, you know, as a nation, everyone’s still supporting us and being like, it’s okay. I guess we still, we still inspire a lot of young kids and became a lot of role models to other kids.” Tryon sees this as part of the journey, with the team continuously learning and striving for success.

Looking ahead to the next T20 World Cup, Tryon focuses on preparing for different conditions. The T20 series against India is a crucial part of this preparation, helping the team finalize combinations and strategies. “Obviously it’s different conditions. We know it’s not going to be the same in South Africa. We’ve got the T20s against India, which would be a really good preparation for us as a team to decide the combinations as well. The team is quite similar to the one that was playing then. Bar one or two, Shabnim Ismail, obviously not being there from that squad. So the squad is literally the same. We’re just making sure that we’ve had the time and space to experiment with different combinations.”

Reiterating the role of the fresh faces in the side, she said, “We’ve got a lot of youngsters coming in now as well and kind of seeing where they fit as well. So making sure that before we get there, we really have a good combination and we know the team going forward, how we want to approach the game, the brand of cricket you want to play, finding different ways on getting out of situations, in tough situations and putting our hands up as senior players is imperative,” she says, emphasizing the importance of these matches in building a strong, cohesive unit ready for the challenges ahead.

Every cricketer’s journey begins with a spark of passion, often ignited in the most humble of settings. For Chloe Tryon, it was no different and it all started in the backyard, playing with the boys and learning the ropes of the game. “So I’ve played a lot of cricket with the boys. You know, as a six, seven-year-old, I played a lot of the different tournaments with boys and being the only girl out of three and then something boys which was tough at times. I felt like playing with the boys until about 13 years old before I realized it was actually a women’s team. It really just shaped me into a good, tough little cricketer because not a little bit soft in the beginning, if you can say that. But it really just helped me in helping me with my game because we know boys are really stronger than girls.”

Starting her cricket journey among boys until the age of 13, she faced challenges that would mould her into a resilient player. “So, ideally they’re going to be quicker and harder to face and all these kinds of things. I started playing with the girls at about 14 years old and then realized, my gosh, I can actually go forward.”

Her father played a pivotal role in her development, with daily practice sessions on a cricket pitch in their backyard. “My dad taught me a lot. We had a cricket pitch in the backyard every day after school, for two hours, put his cones down, and had to hit the cones six out of six all the time. Probably he used to hit about two or three, maybe, I don’t know. And then he used to be a bit smart and be like, you need to do it like this. I’m like, you can’t do it.”

Despite the challenges, she persevered and eventually earned a call-up to the national squad, marking the beginning of an illustrious career. “He pushed me a lot. I think he saw how personal I was about it. Eventually, I got a call-up to the national squad, which I was really excited about. It had been a fantastic 14 years. The growth that I’ve shown is a lot and I feel like I’ve matured a lot in the game as well.”

Reflecting on her career, she notes the rapid passage of time and the significant growth she has experienced. “Everyone just says like I’m a youngster and joked and was just a funny one in the group. I probably am a little bit still, but like I’m the older one. I’m just like, where’s the time gone? But look, if I look back, it’s just been really exciting. I’ve been honoured to represent my country for this long. Hopefully, I can just inspire a lot more girls to start taking up crickets and hopefully, they can wear the green and gold.”

As for role models, her admiration spans across multiple cricketing greats, both male and female. “I grew up watching him, AB de Villiers. I don’t know what it is about left-handers. I thought I was going to be a left-hander, but I became a left-hand bowler. But Adam Gilchrist is just one of the players that I enjoyed watching.”

However, her true inspiration comes from the love of the game itself. “You know, I just, I never loved one player only. I felt that as an all-rounder, I just love watching cricket. Whether it was South Africa or anyone else, I just quite enjoyed it because I feel like I never really supported anyone. I just supported a really good cricket. Like, if it was good, good cricket.”

Her transition to women’s cricket brought new challenges and inspirations, such as playing against legends like Ellyse Perry. “And then obviously realizing that there was women’s cricket and starting to watch women’s cricket and then playing against players like Ellyse Perry. I think it was the 2010 World Cup. I think she bowled me out. I think it was the first, the second ball of my career against her. I probably didn’t even see the ball, but just seeing players like that, you know, was fantastic.”

Today, she not only competes with some of her idols but also inspires the next generation of cricketers. “Just knowing that I can make this into a career and then hopefully I can inspire more people. But yeah, it’s just been, it’s just been nice to see the growth and the players that I looked up to and now being able to actually play with him. I played with Ellyse Perry in the Sixers [at the WBBL] and it was fantastic. She’s a fantastic player and amazing human being as well, which is nice.”

Known for her big-hitting ability, Tryon has worked hard to balance this with consistency. Reflecting on her career, she acknowledges the evolution of her batting style, particularly her reputation as a big hitter. “If I look back to my career, I always became the big hitter. You got to come in this, you need to make 40 runs. I had this big expectation of myself that I had to do something when I got a hit. It just became so much pressure that I had put on myself that whenever I went out there, I would fail.”

Over time, she learned to manage this pressure and refine her approach. “But like I said, the last three, four years I felt like I’ve been a lot better with just narrowing it down and being like, you are a natural big hitter. If you can just take care of the first part, that will take care of itself at the back end. I just found a way to kind of narrow it down and really just say to myself, just focus one ball at a time.”

Chloe Tryon is an absolute force to reckon with in the world of women's cricket [Image: Getty]
Chloe Tryon is an absolute force to reckon with in the world of women’s cricket [Image: Getty]
Her strategy now revolves around building innings and enjoying the process. “I enjoy 50-over cricket a lot more now. I felt like I did a lot of that in the 2022 World Cup. If you can say that, there was tough situations that I came into and I was like, ‘You don’t actually need to do anything stupid’. It’s just about spending time at the crease and getting a good partnership. I started focusing a lot more on that.”

She attributes her success to simplicity and trust in her abilities. “I just kind of narrowed down and looking, looking through the first 20-30 balls of batting and making sure I’m in really good positions. I think it was a small thing for me, not trying to overthink it, just keeping it nice and simple. Trust my hands, you know, get my feet in the right position and just staying nice and calm. I think sometimes the pressure gets so much that we fluster ourselves and we self-destruct. So it’s about doing more of that.”

On transitioning from a pace bowler to a spinner, she reflects on the pivotal decision that reshaped her bowling career. ” I came up as a pacer in the beginning. Then the more I started working on batting as well, we had a squad full of bowlers, you know, we had Marizanne Kapp, Tumi Sekhukhune, Shabnim Ismail, Masabata Klaas and Ayabonga Khaka. Really, you couldn’t touch those pacers. I got to a stage where I was like I actually just need to focus on the batting side of it because I became the par timer. So, this is my time to actually narrow down and try and work my batting as much as I can.”

Realizing the existence of talented pacers in the squad, she embraced the challenge of becoming a spinner. “Then I felt, this is my time to actually, narrow down and try and work myself as much as I can. And then I was in the nets once and the coach said have you ever thought of like changing it up a bit, like, being a spinner, we are struggling with it.”

The transition wasn’t easy but ultimately rewarding. “When I was a little bit younger and my day, he wanted me to try everything. So, I was like, you know what, let’s try it. Like, I don’t think it’s that hard, but really it’s hard. I got to narrow it down and actually just took it, it almost felt like a full-on year of just learning it. Didn’t go in the game, just pulled a lot in the net sessions and felt that this was a really good challenge. I feel like it’s got better and better.”

Having played under captains like Dane van Niekerk, Sune Luus and Laura Wolvaardt with diverse styles, she values the lessons learned from each. “All three are very different. But look, I’ve been fantastic to be under them. I’m happy that I’ve been in conversations with them when it comes to captaincy stuff as well.” 

Talking about her equation with Dane, she said, “We both joined at 15, 16 years old. So, you know, being able to still play with her and talk about plans and, you know, she’s very tactical in the way that she does things. And so they, a lot more different events. Let’s look at different options there and then let’s go with it.”

Chloe Tryon believes the way forward is with a 'fantastic' captain like Laura Wolvaardt [Image: Getty]
Chloe Tryon believes the way forward is with a ‘fantastic’ captain like Laura Wolvaardt [Image: Getty]
She appreciates the perspectives gained from being involved in strategic discussions.“I feel like you learn a lot. It’s always good to look at a different perspective. Sometimes when you captain, I know I’ve been able to captain a couple of games. You can kind of get a bit flustered with everything going on and you might not see something. I’ve always been a person that’s been like, listen, there’s another option if you do need one.”

Discussing the future of women’s cricket in South Africa, she emphasizes the talent pipeline and the importance of professional opportunities. “I think there’s a lot of talent coming through. I’m happy that we actually had a really good U19 set-up, you know, despite the team not getting through, which is a bit of a tough one, but the talent, as you can see, is really good. I think the pipeline is strong.”

She highlights the need for a professional league to bridge the gap with leading nations. “So they get to spend a lot more time doing the skills. So there’ll always be like, there’s always still a big gap between the Australians and English just because they’ve been professional a lot more than us. But we’ve got the talent coming through and we’ve got the backing from Cricket South Africa as well. We’re getting the girls coming through, contracts are coming through. Hopefully, we can start a league next year and start getting it going. I think that’ll be really big for our country and that’ll be really big for the talent in our country as well. “

Despite facing numerous injuries, she remains focused on her passion for playing and leaving a lasting impact. “Yeah, it’s a tough one. In sports, unfortunately, these things happen. I think for me, you just take a moment to stay back a bit, you know, feel all the emotion that you’re going to feel. Because as a cricket player, you want to be playing every single game. I love playing for my country. I think that’s number one for me. So nothing else tops it. It’s tough sometimes, but I think once you go through all the emotions and you put your head down and you have a clear goal in your head, then everything goes out the window. I don’t really focus on everything as much as I should.” 

Chloe Tryon will be crucial to the Proteas fortunes going ahead [Image: Getty]
Chloe Tryon will be crucial to the Proteas fortunes going ahead [Image: Getty]
Her commitment to simplifying her approach and focusing on her goals drives her forward. “I just try and narrow down on doing what I need to do because I know if I do what I need to do, then I’ll be 200% ready to play. So I just try and simplify it. That’s my new word, simplify. I’m simplifying everything nowadays.”

For many athletes, the journey is about more than just personal achievements; it’s about the passion for the sport and the legacy they leave behind. Chloe Tryon embodies that sentiment perfectly. When asked about personal goals, her response is refreshingly honest and filled with love for the game and her country.

“Just to play as long as I can. I think that’s what I’m trying to do now. No, but honestly, I love playing for my country. I want to play for my country as long as I can. You know, there’s nothing better than that. If I can do as far as long as I can and I can walk away from it, knowing that the next generation is coming in and filling in those boots, I’ll be really happy.”

The dream of lifting a World Cup trophy with her country is a driving force, a goal that fuels her dedication and hard work. “Just getting to a World Cup. I really want to walk up to the trophy and enjoy with my country. So I think that’s my goal, hopefully this year. But if not, I’ll be hopefully around for a lot more opportunities to do that.”

When the time comes to hang up her boots, what do they hope to leave behind? It’s not just about her personal records or accolades, but the impact on future generations. “I always talk about this that when I’m in this environment of creating, like leaving a legacy behind, we came from not being professional, not even semi-professional. We’ve opened a lot of doors. I’m hoping that we can continue to open a lot more doors for girls coming in and create an environment where they feel safe, where they seem welcome and a part of the family. And just, wear the green and gold and represent everything, put your body on the line for your country.”

Inspiring young fans and aspiring cricketers is at the heart of her mission. They hope to create an environment where girls feel welcomed and part of a family. “Yeah, I hope I can inspire girls to just come in and enjoy and just have a lot of fun and make a lot of memories. Even though some of them are a bit tough, you’re doing with the second family. Sometimes 10 months in a year, we’re away so this is a family away from home. You make a lot of memories, memories and lost a lifetime, nothing can take that away from you. So hopefully they can come in and experience that and have a good time, but just express themselves and showcase their talents on an international level.”

Chloe Tryon’s journey in cricket is a tale of perseverance, talent, and an unyielding love for the game. Her commitment to representing her country, her dreams of lifting a World Cup, and her desire to leave a lasting legacy highlight not just her dedication to cricket, but also her role as a mentor and trailblazer. Her career is a shining example of what passion and hard work can achieve, and as she steps back onto the field, she embodies the spirit and future of Proteas cricket.

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