YOU’D NEVER KNOW
There are two reasons I’ve stayed in the game, despite the obstacles I’ve faced. One is the professionalisation of the women’s game, which has allowed me to survive financially. The other is the example set by my parents, who have been living with cancer for the past few years.
My dad Giles and mum Sandra are amazing people. They split up when I was nine but live up the road from each other, they remain good mates and told my brother and I we were welcome at either house. I lived mostly at Mum’s place but tended to stay with Dad on weekends, so we could play cricket.
When I was in Year 9 we found out Dad had lymphoma. It was strange for me. I was so young and into school and cricket that it didn’t really hit me. Then, just five weeks later, Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Oliver and I stayed at Mum’s when Dad got sick. When Mum became unwell too, we spent about six months living at friends’ places. Later, I spent some time at home alone while Oliver was away.
I grew up quickly during that time. But the thing that’s made me so proud has been the way my parents have dealt with their situations. Each has been incredibly brave. They’ve faced up to their illnesses, treated each day as normally as possible and made no fuss.
Mum is an incredible woman. While she was going through chemotherapy, before I could drive, she’d drive me two hours to Sydney to train with the Breakers. Then, as I slept in the passenger’s seat, she’d drive me back home. When Mum was too sick to take me, Dad would step in and make sure I got to training.
They’re both going OK now. There are a few other health issues going on but you’d never know it. Injuries and illness have been obstacles for me in recent years. But Mum and Dad have shown me that there is no point complaining. The best thing to do is to push on and do your best to recover.
I’ve tried to put that lesson into practice. After the dream start to my career, I got sick with glandular fever, tonsillitis and bronchitis all at the same time shortly after my HSC. It put me out of the entire second edition of the WBBL.
In May last year, I had a shoulder reconstruction to repair an old netball injury that never quite healed, came back for one game of the WBBL and was then ruled out for seven months with a sacral stress fracture. Over a two-year period, I played one game of cricket.
Even with the example of my parents, it’s been a tough road back. People keep telling me I’ve got plenty of time, aged only 20, but I’ve often thought that if it’s going to be this frustrating and painful, it might be time to do something else.
I’ve had incredible support from people close to me, including ‘Pez’ Perry and our coach at the Sydney Sixers, Ben Sawyer. They’d take me out for coffee, try to take my mind off things and make sure I stayed focused on the big picture.
My brother has also been great. In one teary moment before shoulder surgery, he explained that cricket could be a career for me. He urged me to hang in there. That meant a lot.
ON A WINNER
I wonder how many fine women cricketers have been lost to the game because they couldn’t afford to stay in it. I’m extremely grateful to be in an environment in which I feel so well supported by the structure that now exists.
Being sidelined for so long has been hard. But receiving injury payments during that time allowed me to work on my recovery full-time and stay connected to my teammates and coaches. It’s also meant I’ve had access to professional staff, including physios and medical experts.
Being back in the WBBL feels amazing. In comparison to WBBL 01, the crowds have been great and we’ve had high TV ratings. What I’ve noticed is that kids – boys and girls – are hanging around after games, showing natural interest in cricket and meeting the players.
Things have changed in Bowral, too. The primary school I attended has a girls’ team now and there are girls’ and mixed teams right across the local competition. It’s pretty cool.