It was amazing to be selected for a second ICC/WBBL rookie placement, this time with the Adelaide Strikers. Time off University was negotiated, travel arrangements sorted and once more I headed off to Australia for some winter sun. My arrival was not quite as anticipated….. food poisoning, quarantine officer and visa hiccups… but all got sorted and I received a warm welcome. Having spent 3 months in Adelaide at the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy in 2015 it felt quite like a home-from-home – and I managed to catch up with several friends.
It was actually great to arrive at the same time as all the other players, right at the beginning of the WBBL season. Day 1 was a team building day where we were all meeting each other for the first time. There were some familiar faces from 2 years previously – including Tahlia McGrath who I played with at Southern District and who is now a regular with the Australian Women’s team. The following day we had practice games, and it was good to get an understanding of the team environment. It was great to see Suzie Bates as captain first-hand.
I played in a couple of trial games against an U15 boys team – doing some fielding and found myself rather surprised at being asked to open the batting in the second match! Over the next couple of days there was plenty of training; batting in outdoor nets, power hitting sessions out in the middle, along with many fielding drills. It did pour with rain one day – although unlike Scotland this was warm rain – so we took to the indoor nets!
The weekend brought the first round of matches, with a double header against the Hobart Hurricanes at Gliderol stadium. The support and excitement at the ground was amazing – so many more people than we are used to here. It was great to get 2 wins from 2 – and particularly amazing to watch Suzie Bates score a hundred. She made it look so easy….. I was made to feel very much part of the squad, taking part in the warm up, sitting with the team, listening to the team talk and then doing a running session with the rest of the squad at the end of the matches. The following day we had a Welcome function – and it was quite amazing to be in the new Bodyline Bar at the Adelaide Oval; a totally iconic place and with great views of the ground.
The next morning, we were back in the nets – and I was lucky to have Charlotte Edwards for a 1-to-1 batting session. It was great to gain some of her knowledge – a big emphasis on running hard throughout the whole innings.
Next up were two matches against the Melbourne Renegades. The first match was an incredibly tight finish – ending in a win for the Strikers off the last ball, thanks to a sharp caught and bowled by Captain Suzie. Unfortunately, the next day saw the first loss for the Strikers – we let them get too many runs on the board, and were unable to chase it down. For me – 4 Big Bash matches to learn from and an amazing experience.
In the last few days before Christmas there were no matches so the team wound down with a golf day, which was great fun. My last day before flying home was a scratch training match – where I was given the opportunity to bowl and managed to claim a wicket. A quick coffee with old friends, a shopping trip and last minute sun before heading to the airport to be home for Christmas.
Overall it was fantastic to have the opportunity to spend time learning from some of the best players in the world and spending time in such a high-quality tournament being able to train fully with the squad, understanding preparation for matches and thinking about field placings for each different batter depending on their strength. I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity.