Eighteen-year-old Hannah Darlington has crowned a memorable rookie season in the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League by signing a new two-year-deal with Sydney Thunder.
Darlington, who sat her Higher School Certificate English exam on the morning she made her WBBL debut against the Sydney Sixers in the opening game of the season, needed no time to find her feet in elite company.
While she finished the season as Thunder’s leading wicket taker with 16 - and scored 81 runs at a strike rate of 105.19 - her ability to adapt to the pressure and intensity of the competition surprised veteran players.
As a result of her standout performances Darlington was named the Rebel WBBL Young Gun and - apart from making her WNCL debut for NSW - was also signed to play for Otago Sparks in New Zealand's domestic T20 competition alongside her Thunder teammate, Lisa Griffith.
Darlington, who was raised in Sydney’s western suburbs, said she was ecstatic to be part of what she described as the club’s “exciting future”.
“It was an easy decision to stay on for another two years,” she said. “I’ve been at the club for three years now and I’ve loved it.
“[Coach] Trevor [Griffin] did what I thought was an amazing job this season to allow the younger players in the squad the chance to showcase their skills.
“There was never any pressure on us, we just had to go out and express ourselves. We had six teenagers in our squad, and it was exciting to see we all went out and performed when given an opportunity.”
Darlington credited ‘no nerves’ as another reason why she enjoyed a stellar debut season.
“I’ve been lucky throughout my short career to never have felt nervous,” she said. “If something’s happened [during a game] I’ve just focused on the task ahead. I didn’t need to worry about what the outcomes could be, but just to complete the task.”
Darlington said another benefit of being at Thunder was the exposure she’s had to the club’s many charitable and community programs.
Apart from being the first captain of Thunder’s Indigenous Women’s XI, Darlington has been involved with the club’s leadership programs, community visits and partnership with OzHarvest, who provide meals to people in need.
“Everything Sydney Thunder does off the field is really special for all of the players,” she said. “They provide something else other than cricket - and I think that is very important.”
She may have only just wrapped up her debut @WBBL campaign, but Hannah Darlington couldn’t miss the opportunity to represent the Thunder Indigenous XI this week 🙌💚 #ThunderNation #IndigenousT20Cup pic.twitter.com/s5hX7asjAG— Sydney Thunder WBBL (@ThunderWBBL) December 5, 2019
Thunder Acting General Manager Chris Botherway described Darlington as a great ambassador for the club and women’s cricket.
“Hannah has proven she is a cricketer with enormous potential,” he said. “However, in her first season she proved to also be a great ambassador and, despite her young age, a role model.
“She was selected to address our men’s squad at our orientation day. It was no surprise to see them hang off her very word as she described the thrill and honour of playing for Sydney Thunder.
“Hannah has great leadership qualities and is someone who will grow with the club. We are proud to have her in our ranks and we’ll do everything to ensure she continues to develop as a player and person."