Sydney Thunder’s championship winning captain, Rachael Haynes, has advised the squad that despite wanting to play a role in the team’s title defence throughout its Weber WBBL|07 campaign, she’s decided to put her “family first” after the recent birth of her son, Hugo.
Haynes advised Thunder’s management earlier in the year that she intended to take parental leave during the opening rounds of the competition because they’d coincide with Hugo’s birth. However, besides the birth of her son, there has been a litany of significant developments outside of Haynes’s control that have made linking up with Thunder’s squad too complex a proposition, including:
- The COVID-19 enforced changes to the competition’s structure
- Two weeks in hard quarantine which would eat into Haynes’s parental leave
- The state border restrictions that have been imposed by most Australian states
- Haynes' hamstring injury which cruelled her international series against India.
“I understand the schedule needed to be rejigged due to the ongoing border closures,” said Haynes. “However, the fact it means Sydney Thunder will be on the road for the entire duration of the WBBL - along with the mandatory 14 days in quarantine - left me with no alternative but to make myself unavailable.
“However, as I told the squad, I will be back if there’s changes to the current border restrictions of the tournament structure.”
Haynes told the squad via a video call that becoming a parent was an “incredible experience” for her and partner Leah, and that they both treasured the deep bond that was formed with their son the moment they laid eyes on him.
“As much as I want to be with the team, leaving Leah and Hugo at this stage for such a long period wouldn’t be fair on us as a family” said Haynes.
“I’ve spoken to all the players and staff, and they’ve been extremely supportive of my decision.
“It just shows that in matters of the heart, the heart wins. However, I am doing my hamstring rehabilitation with the intention that I can put myself forward to play, but it would be much later in the season and contingent on state borders opening up.”
Thunder coach Trevor Griffin said ahead of the team’s opening match against Adelaide in Hobart this Saturday, that any side would miss starting their season without a player of Rachael Haynes’s calibre. However, he insisted it was a testimony to her leadership qualities that she’d helped mould a team of players who could step up and accept responsibility.
“I have no doubt that this squad, with the inclusion of our Indian internationals Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma, will be able to go out and continue with the performance and development Rachael has created under her stewardship.
“As disappointing as this is, I know Rachael will be watching to see who steps up to lead and who seizes their opportunities.
“However, the overwhelming feeling within the squad is this is a special time for Rachael, Leah, and Hugo, and all of us at Sydney Thunder couldn’t be happier for them.”
Cricket NSW’S Acting Head of Female Cricket, Clare Crewdson, said Haynes and Leah had the full support of Cricket NSW and Sydney Thunder.
“Rachael has given so much of herself to cricket in this state - and of course, Sydney Thunder - for so many years, we appreciate and respect her decision to put Leah and Hugo first,” said Crewdson.
“She has everyone’s support, and we couldn’t be happier for Rachael and her family.”
Sydney Thunder WBBL Squad
Head Coach: Trevor Griffin
Contracted for WBBL|07: Rachael Haynes (C), Samantha Bates, Hannah Darlington, Jess Davidson, Corinne Hall, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Smriti Mandhana (IND), Kate Peterson, Olivia Porter, Deepti Sharma (IND), Lauren Smith, Tahlia Wilson, Issy Wong (ENG)
Sydney Thunder WBBL|07 Schedule (All AEDT Start Times)
Sat 16 Oct | v Adelaide Strikers | 7:05pm | Blundstone Arena | Seven/Foxtel/Kayo
Sat 23 Oct | v Sydney Sixers | 3:40pm | UTAS Stadium | Seven/Foxtel/Kayo
Sun 24 Oct | v Perth Scorchers | 5:15pm | UTAS Stadium | Seven/Foxtel/Kayo
Tues Oct 26 | v Melbourne Stars | 1:25pm | UTAS Stadium | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au
Wed 27 Oct | v Melbourne Renegades | 1:25pm | UTAS Stadium | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au
Sat 30 Oct | v Melbourne Stars | 4:05pm | UTAS Stadium | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au
Sun 31 Oct | v Hobart Hurricanes | 10:15am | UTAS Stadium | Seven/Foxtel/Kayo
Sun 7 Nov | v Brisbane Heat | 10:15am | Adelaide Oval | Seven/Foxtel/Kayo
Tues 9 Nov | v Adelaide Strikers | 6:00pm | Karen Rolton Oval | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au
Thurs 11 Nov | v Perth Scorchers | 1:25pm | Karen Rolton Oval | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au
Sun 14 Nov | v Sydney Sixers | 1:40pm | Great Barrier Reef Arena | Seven/Foxtel/Kayo
Wed 17 Nov | v Melbourne Renegades | 7:05pm | Great Barrier Reef Arena | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au
Fri 19 Nov | v Brisbane Heat | 7:05pm | Great Barrier Reef Arena | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au
Sat 20 Nov | v Hobart Hurricanes | 3:40pm | Great Barrier Reef Arena | Foxtel/Kayo/cricket.com.au