Abbi Aitken (centre) was the captain of Scotland Women for eight years and took up the post when she was 19 years old. © ICC

Abbi Aitken (centre) was the captain of Scotland Women for eight years and took up the post when she was 19 years old. © ICC

Abbi Aitken has announced on Tuesday (October 31) that she will be stepping down as the Scotland Women’s captain, effective immediately.

She brought an end to a tenure that lasted eight years and began when she was just 19 years old. Aitken has represented her country 135 times across formats, and last led her team in the Women’s World Twenty20 European/Americas Qualifier that was held in Scotland in August earlier this year. Scotland sealed a spot in the global qualifiers along with Netherlands.

Aitken, 26, said her desire to work on her game was paramount, now that the pressure of leading her side is off her shoulders.

“I feel I’m at a stage in my journey where it’s time to concentrate on my own game and show what I can offer the team solely as a player,” said the allrounder. “In order for me to give that my best shot it’s time to pass on the armband – a new challenge for me but one I’m definitely ready for.”

Aitken also voiced her thoughts about the many issues faced by an Associate team like Scotland – lack of playing opportunities, difficulty in shifting between formats – at the Women’s World Cup qualifiers earlier this year in February in Sri Lanka where they were unable to qualify for the next round by finishing fourth in Group B out of five teams.

“We don’t often play against the likes of teams we are going up against, so that again is a bit of the unknown,” she lamented. “We do watch women’s cricket regularly, but to actually come up against them, you never really know till you really play them. The more often we get these opportunities, the better we can see what the standard is we need to be at.”

But Aitken also held that Scotland had earned their spot in the qualifying tournament. “The opportunity hasn’t come around often for us in the past, so we’re going to try and grab it with both hands, to showcase what talent we have in Scotland and why we deserve to be here.”

Aitken credited her captaincy reign with helping her grow as a player, and said that her desire to continue to represent the country wouldn’t die down any time soon.

“At just 19 years of age at the beginning of my term, I feel that handling the responsibility, conquering the challenges and coping with the pressure have all helped to shape me as a person and developed me as a cricketer,” she reflected. “Now at 26, hopefully my best playing years are yet to come and my desire to contribute towards winning games for my country certainly hasn’t subsided.”

Steve Knox, Scotland’s head coach, complimented the outgoing captain and stated that Aitken’s renewed focus on her own skills would only benefit the team.

“As current coach, and on behalf of both myself and the previous coaches she’s worked with, I’d like to thank Abbi for the dedication, energy and enthusiasm she has contributed to the Wildcats and Scotland over the past eight years,” said Knox. “Her leadership and organisational skills will be sorely missed and hard to replace.