Sydney Thunder coach Trevor Griffin said club legend Alex Blackwell’s announcement that she’ll retire at the end of this Rebel Women’s Big Bash League campaign was not a distraction for a team fighting to keep its season alive.
After 18 seasons in elite cricket, Blackwell announced she’d be standing down after her dominant innings of 65 guided Thunder to an impressive victory over the Melbourne Stars on Wednesday.
Blackwell has been in fine form this summer, and she heads into Sunday’s match against the Melbourne Renegades at CitiPower Centre as her team’s highest WBBL|05 run scorer with 316.
Blackwell, like the rest of her teammates, will be determined to keep alive the team’s chance of qualifying for the finals by winning at bayside St Kilda.
While Thunder’s finals aspirations are dependent upon results from other games, Griffin said he’d urge his players to produce the same consistent effort they displayed against the Stars on Wednesday.
“For me, it’s the same message,” he said. “I want them to go out and play their best cricket; play with smiles and enjoy what they do.
“There’s been a lot said about the equations for us to qualify for the finals, but all we can control is our own game. If we play our best cricket – and enjoy what we’re doing – we’re going to be in our best position.”
While Blackwell has earned her standing in the club, as both a committed player and the person who guided Thunder to the inaugural WBBL title, Griffin said his squad was focused solely on keeping their finals dream alive.
“One thing that typifies this team is our family environment; the Thunder Nation feeling that we all work together,” said Griffin.
“These girls will go out wanting to perform at their best – not just for Alex, but because that’s what they do. They’ll go out fully focused on building upon their great performance against the Stars.”
Griffin added working alongside Blackwell had confirmed everything he’d heard about her professionalism as a cricketer and decency as a person.
“She’s one of those people who deserve to be called a 'champion' on and off the field,” he said.
“The way she goes about her training and preparation for games means she’ll be no doubt ready to give her best for a Thunder victory.”
Meanwhile, Kate Peterson and Olivia Porter will remain in Sydney this weekend to play grade cricket.
The game will be broadcast live on the Seven Network and Fox Cricket from 10.30am.
WBBL Squad vs Melbourne Renegades
Rachael Haynes (C) (15)
Samantha Bates (34)
Alex Blackwell (2)
Hannah Darlington (25)
Rene Farrell (88)
Lisa Griffith (54)
Saskia Horley (23)
Shabnim Ismail (89)
Phoebe Litchfield (36)
Rachel Priest (3)
Naomi Stalenberg (10)
Rachel Trenaman (8)
Tahlia Wilson (21)