It was the season of the young guns for Sydney Thunder, with four players under 21 making their debut and their mark on the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League competition.
It appeared the new-look Thunder line-up, led by new coach Trevor Griffin and captain Rachael Haynes, had nailed the balance of youth and experience as the side shot to the top of the ladder at the half-way point of the season.
Unfortunately the second half of the season was not as successful and consecutive losses saw Thunder fall out of finals contention however the experience gained from this season will set the side up for future success.
By the numbers
Win-loss record: 5-8-1
Ladder position: 6th
Highest total: 6/162 vs Melbourne Stars at Manuka Oval
Most wickets taken: Hannah Darlington (16)
Best figures: Rene Farrell (3/14 from 4 overs vs Melbourne Renegades at Blacktown International Sportspark)
Best economy: Shabnim Ismail (5.88)
Most runs scored: Alex Blackwell (317)
Highest score: Rachael Haynes (65 from 47 vs Melbourne Stars at Manuka Oval)
Best strike rate (>5 innings): Rachel Priest (124.37)
Most sixes scored: Rachel Priest (8)
Most fours scored: Rachel Priest (46)
Phoebe Litchfield stole the show on the opening weekend with her class and composure under pressure.
In just her second game, the 16-year-old became the youngest player in Big Bash history to score a half-century, scoring an unbeaten 52 runs to lead Thunder to its first victory of the season.
Hannah Darlington, who made her debut after three years on the roster, cemented herself as a key part Thunder’s XI in WBBL|05. The 17-year-old played all 14 games and finished as the side’s leading wicket-taker with 16 wickets, including best figures of 3/29.
After crossing from the Sydney Sixers, Tahlia Wilson relished the opportunity to bat at No. 3 in her first game in Thunder colours, scoring an unbeaten 47 from 39 deliveries at Karen Rolton Oval.
Teenage all-rounder Saskia Horley also showed promising signs with bat and ball in her first four games for Thunder after making her debut in Burnie against the Hobart Hurricanes.
End of an era
The star duo went out on a high – Blackwell was the side’s leading run-scorer with 317, while Farrell claimed 11 wickets, including best figures of 2/23.
However, as Blackwell said and this season proved, there’s plenty of exciting young talent ready to step up and keep Thunder strong for years to come.
Sam Bates became the seventh player (after Alex Blackwell, Nicola Carey, Rene Farrell, Naomi Stalenberg, Stafanie Taylor and Rachael Haynes) to play 50 games in green.
Blackwell also became the first Thunder player to reach 1,500 Big Bash career runs, while Farrell fell just short of reaching 80 career Big Bash wickets.
Blackwell continued her streak of games and retires as the only player to have played every single game for Thunder across five seasons.
Best of: Sixes
Alex Blackwell hit a huge six at North Sydney Oval to secure Thunder’s first victory of the season, against reigning champions the Brisbane Heat no less.
Best of: Catches
There were plenty of impressive catches this season however it’s hard to go past this match-winning take by 17-year-old Hannah Darlington at Blacktown International Sportspark.
Best of: Run Outs
Rachael Haynes showed her class in the field to run out Erin Burns in the opening match of the season at North Sydney Oval.
Off the field
Thunder is committed to making a real and meaningful difference to the community and all players continued to represent the club incredibly well this season.
Throughout the season, the Thunder Nation also made its mark, donating toys to the Barnardos Australia ‘Gifts for Kids’ appeal to ensure children in need across the Thunder Nation can share in the festive season.
It’s time to switch back to the 50-over game with the Women’s National Cricket League to resume on 6 January.
Rachael Haynes will be back in action with the Australian Women’s Cricket team in February for a T20 International Tri-Series against England and India before the T20 World Cup begins on 21 February at Sydney Showground Stadium.
There’s also plenty more Big Bash action to come this summer, with the KFC Big Bash League beginning on 17 December with an epic clash between Thunder and the Heat at the Gabba.