Mumbai, Dec 5 (IANS): In June 2020, Ireland's fast-bowling all-rounder Kim Garth, who had played her first international match at 14, announced that she would be leaving the country for a two-year deal with domestic side Victoria, a move that many felt could get her into the Australian team in future.
On November 21, 2022, Kim got her maiden call-up to the Australia side for their five-match T20I tour of India starting from December 9, something which left her very excited and gave her parents, former Ireland cricketers Anne-Marie and Jonathan Garth, an immediate call at 3 am, making it a rare occasion where a very late night call would lead to good news.
"(National selector) Shawn Flegler gave me a call two weeks ago. It was in the middle of the afternoon and I think it was the day after we played Hobart Hurricanes and I had an absolute shocker that day (0/34 in three overs). It was a quick call letting me know that I was included."
"I was very surprised and very excited. I rang mom and dad straightaway (in Ireland). They were pretty worried something had happened obviously when you get a call at 3 am. But yes, very excited. It's been a few big years moving across the world through your career. Things like this definitely make it all worthwhile," said Kim to reporters in a virtual press conference after landing in Mumbai.
Having played 34 ODIs and 51 T20Is for Ireland, Kim admitted that a return to international cricket was far away in her mind when she made the move to quit Irish cricket and settle down in Australia.
The prospect of living life as a professional women's cricketer through Victoria and Women's Big Bash League (WBBL), where she played as a local player for Melbourne Stars this season, were doing the rounds in her mind when the switch from Ireland to Australia happened.
"That was a big factor in how difficult the decision was, I knew what I was giving up. But I also at the same time knew the strength of the domestic set-up over here (and) how strong the depth of local players were. The WBBL was a big pull for me in trying to become a local as they attracted top international players."
"Having played a few years (in Australia) in grade cricket and seeing the lifestyle that some of the girls lived, being able to play cricket every day and do that for a living and not have to work other jobs at the side...that's something I really wanted to do."
"It's something I really wanted to do and it was a now-or-never type of thing. I think I was 23 or 24 when I made the decision that it would take me a couple of years to become a local. If I left it any longer, it wouldn't be worthwhile. It was a difficult decision to leave family behind but it's been one where I have really enjoyed and have no regrets now in doing that so far," she elaborated.
At Victoria, Kim was teammates and is now friends with Ellyse Perry and Annabel Sutherland, playing more professional cricket consistently with competitive teams and players than during her life as an Ireland cricketer, something which she thinks has led to growth in her game.
"It's not necessarily a step up, but it's just about the consistency of the games we are playing. When I was playing for Ireland, we played top sides like Australia, India, and South Africa but we just didn't do it regularly enough. That's really exciting now for the Irish team that they are getting more consistent fixtures against those top sides, which is really cool.
"It is not about the massive step up but it's about the level of consistency in domestic cricket in Australia. I think (my game) certainly has evolved, and part of making the move to Australia was to be in a more full-time set-up. I suppose just from increased training areas and being around the best players in the world consistently, I think my cricket has definitely come along."
The last time Kim played international cricket in India, she was representing Ireland in the 2016 T20 World Cup and Australia were one of her opponents in the tournament. Cut to now, and Kim, 26, is back in India, where she is on the cusp of playing for Australia in the international arena, potentially as a new-ball bowler.
"I have played here in the 2016 T20 World Cup, obviously a little while ago now. With the humidity and heat, it does swing around a bit, which is pretty cool. Hopefully, if I get my opportunity, I will be able to use that."