For Paulina Mashishi, becoming a big part of the Northerns Women’s squad for the 2020/21 season is just the next step in a journey that has been longer than most. In fact, through all the steps that she has taken to get to this point in the game, this next leap may well be the most comfortable.

The miserly spinner is not shy of hard work, having taken the long and lonely road to this level. As an up and coming player, she had to walk 5km from the township just to get to cricket practice.​

“Being part of the Northerns Ladies team means a great deal to me because it tells me that, irrespective of difficult circumstances, one does not have to quit but to hold on. It also tells me that my challenges and difficulties should not define who I am,” the Hamanskraal product said, looking forward to the season.

In the past seven years, the self-confessed introvert has honed her skills across the various development age-groups, and she is very excited to learn even more from a Northerns squad packed with experience.

“I am part of one of the best, talented, hardworking and dedicated group of ladies in the city of Pretoria and being in that squad means that I’m good enough to compete against other best groups of ladies from other provinces. I am really looking forward to working with everyone, but especially Mignon du Preez and Sune Luus, who are amazing players that I learn from.” ​

Her economic bowling was a vital part of the Northerns arsenal last season, and she wants to build on that success.

Mashishi has dreams of one day emulating those two global icons of the women’s game, but she knows to take it all one step at a time.

“My goal is to put an extra effort into my fitness, and to make sure I stay on top of my game. I also want to make it to the national development squad,” she said of her goals for the upcoming campaign.​

Mashishi lists the influential actress Nomzamo Mbatha as an inspiration, and she hoped to blaze her own tale of inspiration through cricket.

​As part of a quality squad, she knows that competition for places will be strong within the Northerns set-up. But, competition is something that brings out the best in her, and the balance on paper suggests that the Northerns Ladies will not be short of options.

“The squad is a well balanced and consists of young, talented and hardworking players who will bring something new to the team in terms of their skills. It has a very good blend of experience and cultures, and I can’t wait to be a part of it,” she said with relish.