ALICE Clarke hopes making history as the first female to play in a Lancashire League first team contest is just the start - for her and her peers.

The 19-year-old opened the batting for Accrington and then kept wicket in their President's Cup match against rivals Rishton on Sunday.

But, determined that it will not be a one-off, she is ready to push Matt Wilson for the gloves at the Property Shop Arena, and hopes that soon more women and girls will be playing senior cricket.

"It's not like I've played for the first team once and I'm happy to settle for that and go back to the seconds. I want to keep pushing," said Clarke.

"I want to be Accrington's opener and wicket keeper.

"Matt has always been an amazing wicket keeper, from when my dad used to play, and he's someone that I've looked up to.

"His hand speed behind the wickets is unreal. And he helps me out when he can. He sees it as a healthy rivalry rather than a negative.

"I've had a lot of support from my team-mates and the opposition were really good too to be fair. They said 'well batted' when I came off.

"I don't want any special treatment, I just want to play cricket, and that's exactly how they reacted. That's all I can ask for."

And although she ended up on the losing side, by one wicket, she admits she had "loved it".

"It's been a bit surreal really," said Clarke, who opened the batting with Jon Hayhurst and made 10 before being caught off the bowling of Andrew Hickey.

"I've played there all my life and worked my way up, and it's something I was aiming for regardless of being the first woman. I just want to play at the highest level I can there, like my dad (Damian) and my brother (Jacob) have and my cousins.

"When my dad got the text with the teamsheet on and it said 'first team' and not seconds I couldn't believe it.

"And then on the day the weather was so awful in the morning I didn't think we were going to get on at all. I was stood in my pads for two hours waiting to go out to bat.

"Then finally when we did get on it was a really fun day.

"Hopefully it's the first of many."

And Clarke hopes it will not be long before it becomes the norm, rather than the exception, within the Lancashire League and others.

"That would be brilliant! There are a couple of girls in our All Stars programme at the club and it's great to see," she said.

"I hope more girls can come up through the men's game as well as the women's game."

Proud dad Damian, a former Accrington captain, said: "She handled herself really well, but she's been at Accrington so long and been netting with men and lads she's just used to that environment.

"Plus she's very phlegmatic, she takes it all in her stride, and she's only playing because she's good enough to do it."

Clarke has been training with North West Thunder all week but is expected return to the second XI this weekend for their winner takes all game against Enfield, in which they could top their mini-league.