The Australian women’s cricket team will be busy over the next couple of years competing in two World Cups and helping T20 cricket debut as a sport at the Commonwealth Games.
- Hannah Darlington and Darcie Brown have been added to the women’s squad for the New Zealand tour with an eye on the future
- The teens have been impressive in the Women’s Big Bash League, each winning the young gun award in the past
- Brown will put on hold her 18th birthday celebrations and commencing her first year of university studies to make her international debut
The selectors have made it clear they are already preparing for those future tournaments, naming two surprise additions to the squad heading to New Zealand next month for three ODIs and three T20Is against the White Ferns.
The national side is proving extremely hard to break into, considering the ongoing dominance the team has had in recent years.
However, teenagers Hannah Darlington and Darcie Brown have been able to force their way into the mix, after impressive performances in the Women’s Big Bash League.
Both 19-year-old all-rounder Darlington and 17-year-old fast bowler Brown have won the WBBL young gun award, in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
The young gun award has been won by regular Australian players Ash Gardner, Sophie Molineux and Georgia Wareham in the past.
Speaking with the ABC, Darlington and Brown said they were “shocked” to be selected, even though they knew they were already on the extended list of 25 players being considered.
Still coming to terms with the announcement, they say it hasn’t stopped them dreaming about the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
“I guess this selection now puts me in good stead for a tournament like that … and having those kinds of opportunities available in the near future is really motivating me to stick within the squad.”
As someone who had an “obsession” with the Commonwealth Games as a child, Brown says she looked up to eight-time medallist Dawn Fraser because of her “carefree attitude”.
“I used to enjoy reading books about it in the library,” she said.
Representing country and culture
Darlington, a proud Kamilaroi woman, has now played two seasons with the Sydney Thunder, lifting the trophy in 2020 and finishing second on the wicket-taking list (19) with best figures of 3/19.
Aside from her skill with the ball, her leadership qualities have also appealed to Australian selectors, given the fact Darlington has had more experience as a captain than most young players; leading underage representative teams regularly since she was 13.
Darlington was given a new role as NSW Breakers vice-captain this summer, in just her second year in the Women’s National Cricket League — and today made another step up into the captaincy in a match against Tasmania, in Alyssa Healy’s absence.
Her advanced leadership skills have also seen her take on a prominent role in the push for more Indigenous representation in cricket, participating in barefoot circles before WBBL matches and captaining First Nations exhibition teams.
So, the fact she could become the third Indigenous woman to play in the green and gold — after Faith Thomas and Ash Gardner — is definitely not lost on her.
“Seeing the pride that my NSW teammate Ash gets in representing Australia and the work she has been doing in Indigenous cricket has been inspiring,” Darlington said.
Missing 18th birthday party for Australian honours
Darcie Brown will turn 18 on March 7, right before the Australian squad heads across the ditch, and has had to postpone her coming-of-age birthday party as a result.
The South Australian quick was also due to start her first year of university studies in animal science around that time — hoping to use the degree as a pathway to become a vet in rural areas.
She hasn’t quite worked out yet whether she’ll need to defer or take her studies on tour.
“It could turn out to be a stressful month actually,” she laughed.
“But oh well, going to New Zealand will be cool, it’s an amazing opportunity.”
Brown was forced to learn how to bowl fast early on, with two older brothers who would “whack” her slower balls all over the park.
The national team have been looking for players who can consistently bowl around 120 kilometres per hour, and alongside Tayla Vlaeminck, Brown definitely fits into that category.
“In the WBBL games I played that were on the telly, it said I was bowling 125kph every now and then, but not all the time,” Brown said.
As the youngest player in the squad, Brown is hoping she might get a chance to pick the mind of Ellyse Perry, who made her debut for Australia at 16.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to learn a few things off her and how she dealt with it all the pressure so young,” she said.