Third Blog up and running. To find out what the Southern Stars have been up to please read “Rain 2, Stars 1”

With the T20 series wrapped up at North Sydney Oval, our attention turned to the longer format of the game. No not Test cricket, but 50 over cricket.

For over a decade the Southern Stars have retained the Rosebowl trophy and this playing group wasn’t about to release our grip on the trophy. We had three 50 overs matches to decide the winner therefore it was imperative that we got off to a good start.

A couple of days off prior to the first match not only provided a valuable opportunity for us to recharge the batteries, but it also allowed Sydney to serve up its worst weather.

Our first ODI was at the SCG and it is always special feeling to walk into those change rooms that are immersed in so much history. Unfortunately our time there didn’t go the full distance as we only had the opportunity to bowl 22 overs before the rain began to steadily fall. Despite the bad weather Tom Parker had managed to serve up a belter of a wicket, similar to the WNCL final and it was a shame that the weather thwarted us from getting a full match in.

One may think that an early finish to the match meant that we had the afternoon off. No such luck as Russell our Strength and Conditioner was conjuring up something to make us hurt. His answer was a pool session, yippee my favourite.

As soon as we arrived back at the accommodation I headed straight to the pool to psych myself up for 30 minutes of hell. Luckily Clare (our physio) had goggles so I was quick to pounce on them. The session went like this:

  • 5 min warm-up (I struggle to swim 1 lap without a break let alone 5 mins worth, plus this was only the warm-up)
  • 8 freestyle laps with minimal rest in-between
  • Using the width of the pool we had to jump in, swim to the other side, jump out and complete a circuit of push-ups, lunges and squats, then jump back in and out again. Did you follow that? Try comprehending it when you can’t breath. This was roughly for 10 mins.
  • Finally swim 6 freestyle laps as fast as you can with a walk recovery!

If you can picture a drowned rat that was what I looked like after the session, but at least it was done, hopefully for the first and last time of the tour.

The next day was Australia Day and whilst the rest of the group had a sleep in and moved to our next accommodation in Parramatta, I headed down to the historic city of Camden. As an Australia Day Ambassador I was asked to attend Camden’s festivities that included, thong throwing, citizenship ceremony and the highlight of the day for me, a street parade.

With rain clouds hanging around, organisers were unsure of the numbers, but as we emerged from the formal ceremony, I hopped into a car built in 1923 and lead the parade. To my surprise there were thousands lining the street all dressed in Aussie gear and it was such a thrill.

Our second ODI was out at Blacktown International Sports Park, which ended with not a ball delivered. There was a lot of sitting around which saw our boredom increase exponentially as the time ticked by. The only thing that the team got up to was playing practical jokes in the change rooms (taping bats on the roof) and basically getting frustrated that we weren’t going to get on.

The final ODI meant that the Rosebowl trophy was going to be decided by this match, almost like a final in a World Cup. Thankfully the sun decided to fight its way through and there was no doubting that we were going to be playing. Jodie lost the toss and we again found ourselves starting off in the field.

Unlike the SCG our opening bowlers had the Kiwi’s in trouble right from the start and we continued to pick up regular wickets with Julie Hunter and Ellyse Perry both picking up 3 wickets a piece. The Kiwi’s were bowled out for 125 and the attitude our openers took into our innings was to play the game like a T20. That they did with much success, and it saw us pass their total in the 17th over having only lost one wicket. Leah Poulton (61*) and Alex Blackwell (50*) were the main destroyers for us, both finding the boundary on a regular basis.

The rain won 2 matches but our win ensured that the Rosebowl would be staying on Australian soil for another year.

With the Rosebowl safely in our grasp, our attention again has shifted to the T20 format as we play two curtain raisers before the men’s International matches. The first is to be played tomorrow at Sydney Olympic Park and the following at the MCG on Friday. Both matches will be shown live on Channel 9, so if you can’t attend please tune in!

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My second Blog is now up, please have a read! “T20 Series Win Already”

The start of the International summer began at my second home, the SCG. With the majority of the T20 and Rosebowl Series being played in Sydney the group met a few days prior to the first game, which gave us a chance to be put through our paces.

Everyone soon slotted back into the touring way of life – waking up, peeing into a cup, weighing in and training hard. For me being on tour is a rare opportunity to catch up on some sleep, relax and write this blog.

The only addition to our regular tour preparation was a casual morning tea at Admiralty house hosted by Her Excellency Quentin Bryce. Along with both teams, there were a number of In2Cricketers in attendance playing on a pitch that had been mowed into the croquet lawn at the front of the house. Michael Bryce was kind enough to give Erin Osborne and I a personally guided tour of his residence, explaining the historical elements of all the paintings and furniture that decorated this heritage house. The only issue was that we managed to rejoin the rest of the group whilst the Governor General was addressing the group -whoops!!

The first three of our T20’s were played at North Sydney Oval with ABC again covering these games. The first match was particularly special as Jessica Jonassen made her debut with Australia. After wining the toss, we headed into the field and at the completion of their innings, the Kiwi’s had posted a competitive total of 145. Our chase didn’t start well with the loss of a few early wickets, but then Jessica Cameron arrived at the crease and slog swept her way to an impressive 59. Unfortunately both Jess and Alex got out in consecutive deliveries and when Sarah Coyte mistook me for Usain Bolt (I was run out) it was left to Jonassen and Coyte to bring the team home in the final over. It was a great team victory even though we didn’t play as well as we would have liked, but most importantly it meant that we had started the series with a win.

With a short turn around between games, our 2nd T20 was met with overcast conditions.  We lost the toss this time and we were sent in to bat. A solid start by our openers allowed the middle order to try and find the boundary. I was lucky enough to be in a good partnership with Alex and managed to compile my maiden 50 in T20 cricket. On a slow outfield we posted 128 but we knew that hard work would be required in the field if we were going to post our second win.

As a spinner you occasionally get thrown the ball in the first 6 overs of a T20, but my job was made easy as Julie Hunter picked up 2 wickets in her first 2 overs and I managed to do the same. From there the bowlers continued to apply pressure to the Kiwi’s batting order, and it was great to be able to dominate, bowling them out for 69 runs.

Our third and final T20 at North Sydney was the perfect Sunday afternoon. With the crowd rolling in and settling on the hill, the atmosphere was spectacular. Therefore it was without hesitation that when we won the toss we elected to bat. Throughout our innings there were a number of small partnerships built in and around Alex (41) and with some powerful hitting in the final overs, we finished with 134.

The Kiwi’s run chase again commenced with the loss of some early wickets, however they were able to consolidate through the middle. Despite this, the required run rate began increasing steadily at which point, wickets started to tumble. Fighting all the way, the Kiwi’s managed to clear the boundary on several occasions, however, we always felt that there was enough difference between the run required and the amount of balls left. Increasing scoreboard pressure led to some desperate running between the wickets, but we were equal to the challenge. We were able to hit the stumps on more than one occasion, and for me, it was the first time after a whole domestic season of trying. In addition to this feat, I managed to pick up my best figures in an International T20 of 4/18.

After three T20’s we have walked away with 3 wins, giving us the T20 trophy even though we still have 2 more matches to complete. This is a great result for us, as in the past we have struggled to win matches against the Kiwi’s in this format. A great start with everyone in the team contributing!

Apart from the cricket there hasn’t been that much going on, but here are few highlights – a welcome rest day where Alyssa Healy and I hit a few golf balls, Julie Hunter walking straight past the group as we had a team meeting in Thai only to then try and call the whole team who had their phones on silent and finally getting Sharon Millanta to try Indian!

Stay tuned for the Rosebowl Series and the final two T20’s that will be curtain raisers to the men’s T20 matches.

A WEEK OF EMOTIONS – The end of the domestic and start of the International season

Within a matter of 7 days the Lend Lease Breakers had played in 3 x T/20’s and 2 x 50 overs in 3 different states. We had tasted success four times, with only the one defeat.

The week began playing Tasmania down in Hobart for our last round of matches in the WNCL and WT20. After a couple of weeks off due to the Christmas and New Year period everyone was keen to dust off the cobwebs and try and get some valuable time in the middle prior to the finals.

The Breakers finished both competitions undefeated but with a short turn around before our first final there wasn’t much time to celebrate or recover. 48 hours at home and we were back on the plane heading down to Etihad stadium to try and obtain the elusive WT20 trophy. It was the first time that both teams had played there and, with the roof closed, I immediately had a strange eerie feeling about the place.

Out in the middle the surroundings seemed darker than expected, but what particularly struck me was that you could hear a pin drop! Normally in the background are a plethora of noises such as sirens, birds, planes etc, but not here!

For the third consecutive year our opposition was Victoria who won the toss and elected to bat. After some initial success with the ball, the Vic’s dug in with Jessica Cameron the chief destroyer. We fought back well but late in the innings they managed to find the boundary again to help them to post a score of 144.

After a quick 10 min change over we got off to a good start with Alyssa Healy (Midge) hitting a 6 off her first delivery. Unfortunately that was it for her and I was soon in working hard with Alex. We managed to form a small partnership, but an attempt by me to find the boundary wasn’t quite good enough at which point, Sarah Coyte, who already had been successful in the bowling innings came to the crease. Despite a good fighting partnership we went down by a tantalising 10 runs.

Of course I was disappointed with the loss but realised it was the nature of T20 cricket. With such a short turn around before our next match, we had 48 hours to get over this loss and focus on the 50 over final held at the SCG.

My initial feelings to our loss changed dramatically and by the time I got home at 11pm. I was so angry with our performance that I had to ring Sarah Aley for a debrief. A sleepless night didn’t help my mood, and by morning I was tired, dejected and knew that I had to face the office (CNSW) knowing that they all would have watched the game.

Thankfully there was an optional training session on the Friday, where I was able to blow off some steam at which point I began to look forward to the next day.

Saturday came around and under cloudy conditions and a grassy wicket we were sent in. We had a rocky start and things didn’t look that great when I walked to the crease with the score on 2/2. Rachel and I were able to put on a good partnership and as the wicket flattened out it was great to see Rachael unleash as she posted the highest individual score in a final of 156 runs to give us a great score of 310.

We all knew that the wicket was a road and that we would have to bowl well to win the match. For the first 25 overs the Vic’s were keeping with the required run rate and being a bowler it felt like even your good deliveries were finding the boundary.

A great catch from both Midge and Ellyse Perry swung the game into our favour and from then on we were able to apply the scoreboard pressure. Our fielding throughout the game was excellent with all chances that were given by our opposition taken. In the end we bowled them out in the 41st over with their final score 240.

It was a special to win our 7th WNCL in a row to create a new record but more importantly to do it in front of 40 odd past players. On the same day we played the WNCL final, Cricket NSW was recognising the past female players by presenting them a Baggy Blue, something that they never had a chance to wear.

An already memorable day for me was made so much more special by having these players, ones whom I had looked up to and were my heroes growing up, presented with the Baggy Blue.  To see one of these players, Lorna Thomas, who is 94, put on her Baggy Blue is something that I will never forget.

What a great way to finish the domestic season by winning the WNCL, seeing past players receive their Baggy Blue and sign the team song in a huge huddle of 50 players on the ground!

Stay tuned for the Rosebowl Series that kicks off tomorrow.