All-rounder Elena Tice focusing on stick and ball games
Having playing for Ireland at both cricket and hockey, the future is bright
Elena Tice made her debut for the Irish senior women’s team at 13 years of age and the hockey side at 17. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.
At the age of just 13 Elena Tice became the second youngest player in the history of cricket, male or female, to play in an official one-day international when she represented Ireland against the Netherlands in Utrecht. And at 17, she made her senior international debut for the Irish hockey team against Scotland in Glasgow, last November. Tice, who is in her final year at St Gerard’s, Bray, was born in England but after time living in the United States and Austria, moved with her family to Wicklow, the birthplace of her mother.
You’re 18 now, so it’s five years since you made your international debut in cricket – do you feel like a veteran?
What are your memories of that occasion? Did it wash over you because you were so young?
I think it probably washed over me a little bit alright. But I remember it really well, too. I was so delighted when I took my first wicket, there was a sense of relief, like, do actually deserve to be here. It was just an amazing experience, and one that has stood to me since, I think. It helped me a lot when I was called up the hockey squad and made my debut.
You came by it honestly, cricket was in the blood?
It was, my Dad played and one of my brothers [Irish under-19 international Patrick] is dead keen on cricket, he’s playing at Cambridge University at the moment.
So from a really young age I would have played in the garden with my Dad and two older brothers [the other being Dalton, who played rugby with the Leinster under-19s]. And then we lived in Vienna and we managed to find the one and only cricket club there.
You were widely travelled?
Yeah, that was because of my Dad’s job with an international company, so we moved around – but we’re definitely not moving again! We moved from Hampshire to Indianapolis when I was four. I played softball at that age, and a bit of soccer – but no cricket in America, unfortunately. Then we moved to Vienna a couple of years later and found a cricket club.
We had a Sri Lankan coach there and he was so passionate about the game, I learned a lot from him. And then it was on to Ireland when I was eight, we’ve been in Glenealy since, where my Mum is from. I went to Aravon School where they were huge on cricket, we had our own pitch out back and nets, we’d be out there every day in the summer term. It was really good fun, I loved it. My headmaster Kevin Allwright was a Merrion Cricket Club man so we all went there, and I’ve been there since.
When did you take up hockey?
As soon as I moved back to Ireland. I just loved it from day one. I joined Loreto last year, great people, great club, I really like it there. It all kind of worked out at first – hockey in the winter, cricket in the summer. But it became challenging. When I was playing Irish under-16 and under-18 hockey we’d go all the way in to the summer, so there would be a lot of clashing with the summer cricket season. And when you play for the senior cricket team it goes all the way through the winter.
And now you’re a senior international in both, it gets tougher choosing?
It does. And I don’t think it’s viable to continue the two of them, it’s a tough thing to say but I think I’m steering in the direction of hockey at this point. I never expected to play senior international hockey before I was 18, it’s the last thing I ever thought would happen. With hockey I’ve had to work really hard on things, so it just felt like all that hard work had paid off. There are a lot of exciting things down the line, the World League and trying to qualify for the World Cup and eventually the Olympics. And you have to start working for all that now. So that’s where I am at the moment.
You’re a (literal) all-rounder – what other sports did you play?
Well, soccer was my absolute passion until I was about eight. I was an avid Man United supporter, I had just about every single jersey. I rode horses for a while too, I would have Evented until I was about 13, and I also played a bit of rugby in primary school.
They would have come mainly from soccer and cricket, Paul Scholes was my idol, definitely, and in cricket it was probably Andrew Flintoff – I loved him, lots of charisma. They were the two I really looked up to.
Do you think long-term, ambition-wise, or one day at a time?
It’s only natural to look ahead, especially because I have a lot of decisions to make. I’m finishing school, I’ve a whole life ahead of me, so it’s a bit scary! There’s lots coming up for the hockey team, but reaching the Olympics would be the ultimate dream.