Sydney Thunder coach Trevor Griffin said he was excited by the promise of the lightning his team’s opening pace bowler, Shabnim Ismail, would provide the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League in this weekend's back-to-back blockbusters at the Sydney Showground Stadium.
Ismail, who is South Africa’s all-time leading female wicket-taker in international limited overs and T20 cricket, bowled with venom during last Wednesday night’s loss to Brisbane Heat. The memory of her effort to extract extra zip from Blacktown International Sportspark’s pitch made Griffin smile as he focussed on Saturday’s clash with the top-of-the-table Melbourne Stars on Saturday night (7:05pm) and Perth Scorchers on Sunday (10:20am).
“Shabnim hadn’t played a huge amount of competitive cricket [heading into WBBL|06] but she’s bowling better and better in each match,” he said. “She’s found her rhythm, and I love that she bowled with genuine pace against Brisbane on Wednesday night... to finish with 0-14 off her four overs reflected her effort.
“I’m looking forward to seeing her play this weekend because of the pace she is generating.”
Ismail, in her second season with Thunder, spoke of the passion that drives her to bowl fast in Spotlight – the first of a series of inspiring features that will appear on Sydney Thunder’s website and social media channels.
“One of my goals was to be one of the quickest in the world, and I think I’ve just happened to do it,” she said. “I always say I’m living my dream. As a youngster I always wanted to be the opening bowler for South Africa... I want to portray myself [in any league I play] as an opening bowler; not just any opening bowler, but one that leaves a legacy.”
Griffin added the form all-rounder Hannah Darlington had displayed in recent matches – including her effort to shut out the Hurricanes in the final over to allow Thunder to notch a one-run win last Sunday – suggested she’d be a force in this weekend’s matches.
“’Awesome’ is the word I’d use to describe Hannah’s bowling, she’s really attacking the stumps,” he said. “She’s been quite skilful in her variations; Hannah has a very clear filter.”
Seventeen-year-old batter Phoebe Litchfield was yet another player who Griffin expected to make the second half of the competition “interesting”.
While the second-placed Thunder lost their last match to the Heat, coach Griffin described the performance as ‘one of those things’ that ‘sometimes happen in cricket’.
“There’s those days when things just don’t go your way,” he said. “That’s taking nothing away from the Heat – they bowled really well and were consistent in their areas. They attacked the stumps and made it difficult for us. The main thing for us, I believe, is we’re clear about our scoring options when bowlers are doing that to us.”
Sydney Thunder will wear a playing strip designed by prominent Indigenous artist Rheanna Lotter, a Sydney-based Yuin woman, in this weekend’s First Nations Festival of Cricket.
Sydney Thunder Squad vs Melbourne Stars (14/11) and Perth Scorchers (15/11)
Rachael Haynes (c) (15)
Samantha Arnold (3)
Sam Bates (34)
Tammy Beaumont (91)
Hannah Darlington (25)
Saskia Horley (23)
Shabnim Ismail (89)
Sammy-Jo Johnson (58)
Heather Knight (5)
Anika Learoyd (4)
Phoebe Litchfield (36)
Kate Peterson (33)
Lauren Smith (2)
Rachel Trenaman (8)
Tahlia Wilson (21)
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