We are back profiling athletes to watch out for in the build up to and at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games; and our next Generation 22 star is cricketer Sophia Dunkley, right off the back of a stellar summer in the England Cricket team. 

Earlier this year, Sophia became the first Black woman to play a Test for England when she made her debut in June against India. And during October, Black History Month, we feel it particularly important to reognise this achievement as Sophia becomes a history maker herself. 

Of course it wasn't always big stadiums and making sporting history for Sophia. Much like many children her age, she discovered the sport at home. 

"I first started playing cricket with my  neighbour." Sophia replied when we asked where she started her sport.

"I lived next door to him and we used to play in the cul-de-sac, in our road and in the back garden, and from there I joined a club in Finchley."

"I used to play with the under 11s at Finchley Cricket Club, in the girls team and a few boys matches too."

Sophia made her international debut back in 2018, however she had a difficult period trying to nail down a consistent spot in the strong batting line-up. She reflected on this particular period of her career when asked what has been her greatest sporting challenge to date:

"I think probably missing out on a few England squads, not being in the team for about a year and a half, and kind of fighting for a way to get back in the team."

Fight her way back she did! This year Sophia has taken the cricketing world by storm, becoming a consistent feature in all three formats of the international team, and performing quite outstandingly in the maiden edition of the Hundred competition, where she ended up as the third highest run scorer. 

The young allrounder has become used to these big tournaments of late, and she was able to give us a small insight into what it is like preparing for major sporting events. 

How would it feel to be a part of Team England at the Commonwealth Games?

"Sometimes it can be a bit manic, and a little bit busy, but it's fun to be with the girls, everyone gets along so well, and we have a laugh along the way.

"Yeah kind of living out of a bag, but that's all part of it I suppose."

Men's cricket was previously part of the 1998 Kuala Lumpar Games,  but next summer the women's game will be making it's Commonwealth Games debut. And Sophia is relishing the opportunity to be another part of history.

"It would be an honour to be a part of Team England, having it on home soil and with women's cricket never being involved in the Commonwealth Games before so a very special feeling.

"It's obviously a privilege to have cricket back in the Games, and hopefully, you know, representing Team England with be a massive honour." 

We are extremely proud of everything that Sophia has already achieved, and cannot wait to hopefully see her showing some of that explosive form at Edgbaston next year! We will be keeping a track of Sophia's progress leading up to the Games, as well as all our other Generation 22 athletes - so keep a look out!