Sydney Thunder has paid tribute to Alex Blackwell following her retirement from the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League, ending a distinguished 18-year career as an elite cricketer.
Blackwell will play in this Sunday’s final regular season match against the Melbourne Renegades at St Kilda’s CitiPower Centre, and she aims to help keep alive Sydney Thunder’s hopes of making the finals series.
Her greatest achievement with Thunder was leading the club to the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League title in 2015/16.
She retires holding the record for the most matches and most runs for either Sydney Thunder men’s and women’s teams, having played 71 matches and scoring 1751 runs at 35.02.
As testimony to her importance to the club, the player voted Sydney Thunder’s most valuable player of the WBBL season is presented with the Alex Blackwell Medal.
Blackwell told her teammates that she would retire at the end of this summer’s campaign after playing a match-winnings innings of 65 in yesterday’s game against the Melbourne Stars at Manuka Oval.
“I’d decided before the match that I was going to retire,” said Blackwell, who sits in seventh place on the WBBL’s all-time highest run scorer’s list. “It’s got to come to an end at some point.
“There’s been many highlights, but what’s been really cool [this season] is watching the next generation of Thunder players grabbing their opportunities. It’s been very special to be a part of that – I’m really satisfied.
“I’ve been really happy with [the role of] mentoring out in the middle. I had an opportunity against the Stars to bat with [16-year-old] Phoebe Litchfield and Saskia Horley.
“It was good to talk to them about what the good options were to go to - and to help clarify in their minds what was on, and where to back themselves.”
Blackwell, who is regarded as one of Australian cricket’s most respected figures, admitted the intensity – and disappointment – of last summer’s WBBL finals series in which Sydney Thunder suffered a last ball loss to Brisbane Heat prompted her to have one more season.
“I was heartbroken, but also amazed, by last year’s semi-final,” said Blackwell. “I . . . well, a little bit selfishly . . . thought to myself: ‘I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and contributed to cricket for a long period of time for it to reach this point’.
“I thought the WBBL was an amazing competition to be a part of and decided I could go again – and I’m pleased I did. It’s been good fun, and I've enjoyed supporting Rachael Haynes because I think she's led the team very well.”
Sydney Thunder’s Acting General Manager Chris Botherway commended both Blackwell’s achievements at the club and her ability to inspire a generation of cricketers to embrace the sport.
“Alex will be remembered as a Sydney Thunder legend,” said Botherway. “She's also one of cricket's best ambassadors; proof the truly great players show class on and off the pitch.
“There are very few players who have done more than Alex to inspire boys and girls to fall in love with cricket, and many of her current teammates are among them.
“She has worked tirelessly to help build the culture we enjoy at Sydney Thunder. As someone who gave the club her all, Alex can retire knowing her legacy will endure.”
A former Australia and NSW Breakers captain, Blackwell retired from international and state cricket two seasons ago.
She claimed a domestic title in each year of her captaincy reign with either the Breakers or Thunder.
Blackwell remains the leading run scorer for NSW in the WNCL with 4788 runs at 46.94 from 139 matches, including 11 centuries 30 half-centuries.
Another exceptional cricketer from country NSW, Blackwell was brought up in Yenda and Griffith and remains Australia’s most capped female cricketer across all formats with a total of 251 games. She is fourth on the lists of both Australia’s Twenty20 and One-Day run scorers.
Alex Blackwell Career Span
Tests: 2002/03 - 2017/18.
ODI: 2002/03 - 2017/18
IT20: 2005 - 2016/17
NSW: 2001/02 - 2017/18
Thunder: 2015/16 – 2019/20