When Sydney Thunder’s Tahlia Wilson packs her bags for a cricket campaign, she reserves a special place in her kit bag for her prized hockey sticks.
The 22-year-old wicketkeeper/batter makes no secret of her love for the Olympic sport, which she stopped playing after signing a contract with Cricket NSW five years ago. However, whenever possible, Wilson can be found cheering on her old hockey team, Albion Park – the club which her entire family has represented in the Illawarra and South Coast Hockey Association.
“I think it gives me a piece of home,” said Wilson of the reason she takes her hockey sticks with her on tour. “I grew up around hockey and I know the sport really well.”
While in Adelaide for Thunder’s matches against the Heat, Strikers, and Scorchers, Wilson tapped back into her old skills when she had a hit with South Australian hockey representatives Emma de Broughe – who also plays for her state in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) – and ace goalkeeper, Amy Hammond, who’s been identified as one of the nation’s top goalie prospects.
Wilson admitted stepping onto South Australia’s State Hockey Centre to have some shots at goal felt a bit like walking on clouds.
“It was amazing just to have the hockey stick in hand,” beamed Wilson, who showed tremendous skill. “Obviously it’s been full-on with cricket, so just to have that break and get out there and hit some balls.. I had a lot of fun.”
While Wilson shelved plans to follow her childhood hero Casey Sablowski (nee Eastham) in becoming a Hockeyroo, she’s never regretted embracing cricket.
“The opportunity was there for me in cricket,” said Wilson, who was a member of numerous NSW state hockey squads. “And I was really grateful for Cricket NSW giving me a contract. I took that, and I’m glad I did [because of] where I am with my cricket.”
Wilson has earned the praise of Sydney Thunder coach Trevor Griffin for the way in which she has stepped up as one of the team’s leaders during a challenging season. Apart from her brilliant keeping, Wilson took on the responsibility of opening the batting, and was rewarded with an impressive milestone – hitting her first WBBL half-century.
She also left an indelible impression during her fun hit out on the hockey pitch with both Hammond and de Broughe noting she has plenty of natural talent despite not playing for five years.
“Yes, she did pretty well,” said de Broughe. “Some of the shots on goal were really strong – she’s definitely still got it!”
The next time the pair could oppose one another is during this summer’s WNCL season when the NSW Breakers play the South Australian Scorpions. And while de Broughe made it clear she respected Wilson, it’s quite possible she could have a cheeky sledge up her sleeve.
“I think I’ll [have a crack about] some of her back hand passes [today],” she said with a laugh.
Sydney Thunder WBBL|07 Schedule (All AEDT Start Times)
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