Bright future for women’s cricket in Australia

The Hobart Hurricanes played their first Women’s Big Bash League games at Bellerive’s Blundstone Arena over the weekend. The women had a solid win over the Brisbane Heat on New Year’s Day to a vocal home crowd of around 4000 people, prior to the record crowd at the men’s game later in the evening.

After a disappointing loss to the now top placed Sydney Thunder, the Hurricanes currently sit second on the ladder and have three more matches to play before finals. They will be looking to get back into their winning form.

The Hurricanes have proven themselves to be a real contender in the WBBL01. They were not really on the national radar coming into the competition, perhaps because they don’t boast the star power of some of the other sides, and the Tasmanian Roar, a very similar lineup to the Hurricanes side, came off a disappointing season last year.

What the Hurricanes do have, though, is a solid team made up of very experienced players who are comfortable playing together. The Hurricanes have been smart with their recruits, taking on Julie Hunter into their bowling attack, experienced New Zealander Amy Satterthwaite, and English all-rounder and vice-captain Heather Knight.

The Hurricanes also have a lot of experience in Tasmanian Veronica Pyke, whose pace and swing have her as the current leading wicket taker for the WBBL01 with 18 wickets. The next closest vying for top spot is the Brisbane Heat’s Delissa Kimmince with 17 – though she has played two more games than Pyke at this stage.

At 34 Pyke, hailing from the East Coast of Tasmania, is a veteran of the women’s game. She has represented Tasmania from its introduction to the domestic competition and has been a stalwart for the team ever since. She recognises how important the WBBL is.

“It’s an extremely exciting competition to be a part of. It quite possibly could be the best domestic T20 competition for women in the world. The quality is amazing and being aligned with the men’s BBL it’s like we’ve automatically picked up a huge fan base. Players, officials and fans all seem to be embracing it and loving it.”

Originally known for her left-arm bowling, Pyke has become a very handy all-rounder and when batting can quickly lift the team’s run rate, as demonstrated by her current strike rate of 125.00. In the game against the Heat over the weekend, Pyke took three wickets herself and contributed to two more, safely catching two from Hunter’s bowling. The 4000-strong crowd showed their appreciation, roaring with every moment, and there were many young girls among them.

Pyke says, “It’s such a privilege to be able to inspire young female cricketers the way we are through the WBBL. The future looks bright and solid for women’s cricket in Australia.”

It certainly does. The depth of Australian women’s cricket really is on show during the WBBL01, and young girls can see the pathway to elite level in front of them on the big stage. It’s fantastic for players such as Pyke, who have contributed so much to the sport over many years, to get an opportunity to showcase their talents in a world class competition like this.

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