A Star Is Born #cricket

Monday 17th December 2012 was a special day for all those that were at North Sydney Oval.

Megan Schutt made her debut as the 123rd Australian to represent her country in ODI format. My number is 93, so since my debut in 2001 I have seen 30 players represent their country for the first time. Many of those have stayed for a few years and others have found the jump too hard from domestic cricket to international cricket.

With Megan debuting it made me stop and think about those 30 players. Every time a new player makes their debut it reminds me about how I felt during my first match and tour. I was so nervous, excited and yet couldn’t believe that my dreams were coming true.

As the years go on and as another tour rolls into another, the range of feelings, and the level of excitement, you feel on the morning of your first game for your country is hard to recapture. Thankfully younger players within the tour help to remind us oldies of just how special it really is to make your debut to play cricket for our country.

Of those 30 players that have made their debut during my time within the team, I am most proud of the NSW players – no surprises there. The reason for this is because I have witnessed first hand their development through my role as Youth Programs Manager for Cricket NSW from when they were about 15. To see them progress through the elite pathway to the point of now actually playing alongside them, watching them perform at an International level, really is one of the major perks of my role at Cricket NSW.

Cricket is a unique sport in the fact that it is a team sport that is made up by individual performances. Everyone is plays a role in ensuring that the team is successful, but every now and again you come across a special talent. Something that you haven’t seen before and you are in total awe of what they can do at such a young age.

The first time I witnessed it was when I saw Ellyse Perry. As a 16 year old making her debut, I knew what she was capable of, having seen her in the youth programs. On the other hand there were a number of players, including NSW players, that hadn’t seen her due to her not even representing NSW at an open level yet. Some were understandably dubious, so I got great satisfaction watching the first net session, to see everyone stop what they were doing to watch Ellyse approach the wicket to bowl. As corny as it sounds it was effortless, like poetry and was great to watch, other than if you were the batter facing her.

Despite her age she had the presence of mind to perform well at this next level, so it comes as no surprise she continues to successfully juggle two semi professional sports. Ellyse is now into her 5th year of International cricket and certainly has a long career ahead of her if she so desires.

The second time I witnessed a special talent was 8 years ago when a little blondie came to Drummoyne oval to play her first 1st grade match for Gordon. We were short of a player and she had been performing well in the lower grades. You may know her, her name is Meg Lanning. I can’t say she set the world on fire in her first innings, but as a 12 year old she displayed a sound skill set and I knew once she grew into her body that she would be an exciting player.

Fast forward to the 17th December 2012 and is was a special moment to witness Meg dispatching the Kiwis to all parts of North Sydney Oval. With the Rosebowl series level at 1-1, this match was important to ensure that we retained the trophy that has been in our cupboard for 14 consecutive years. Chasing 178 to win we tried our third opening partnership combination for the series of Alyssa Healy (Midge) and Meg.

After a few early chances given by both batters (very costly in the end) it was Meg that got the ball rolling. In the 5th over Meg took to Rucks bowling bring up her 1st six of the innings by smashing the ball back over the bowlers head to reach the sight screen on the full. Might I add this is her using her “4 bat”, as if! As in she says she can only hit 4’s with this bat and didn’t believe it was capable of hitting sixes. For the rest of her innings she dispelled that theory pretty quickly.

From that over onwards she was seeing the ball like a watermelon and every time she was on strike she found the boundary either through the 18 fours or her 3 sixes. Meanwhile Midge played the perfect partner by getting her on strike and then in her words “giggling” as she enjoyed the best seat in the house, the non-strikers end.

Every time Meg faced up everyone was just in awe of what was unfolding and murmurs around the group began when she was around 70 runs of what the actual record was. I knew that Karen Rolton had scored a century in 50 odd balls and that if she didn’t get out she would beat that. And that she did as she brought her hundred up in 46 balls.

What an amazing innings and to think that she is only 20 already averaging over 50 in her ODI career, I can’t wait to see her break all the records.

It is moments like Meg’s innings that remind me why I play this game and how much I enjoy being around this group. To say that I played with Meg and plenty of other players within this team is extremely special for me and I know that long after I retire these players will take the women’s game to a level I never thought could be possible.

Can’t wait to sit back and enjoy the spectacle and I urge you all to get on board as the show is just about to start!!!