Photo Credit: Cricket NSW
The NSW Breakers have made just one change to their list of 17 contracted players for the 2022-23 season with talented Manly CC all-rounder Saskia Horley returning to the squad in place of Rachel Trenaman.
The squad, to again be coached by Gavan Twining and led by Alyssa Healy, contains a solid mix of youth and experience, including Cricket Australia contracted stars Healy, Rachael Haynes and Ash Gardner.
But it is the return to professional cricket for 22-year-old Horley, the leading scorer in NSW Premier Cricket last summer, that is the highlight of the squad.
After beginning her first professional stint for the Breakers as a 17-year-old, Horley was seen as a star on the rise but after two challenging years at the top domestic level she lost her contract. Her corresponding Sydney Thunder WBBL contract wasn’t renewed either.
For many, that would have been the end of their cricketing dreams but for Horley, it was just what the doctor ordered.
“I was in a weird spot and knew I’d lose my contract,” Horley says of the time.
“I wasn’t surprised that it happened. I didn’t take my chance at the Breakers for granted but it was all in my lap and I have now worked out I was probably a touch ungrateful for the opportunity.
“But losing my contract was the best thing that could have happened to me.
“I was suddenly outside the professional cricket ‘bubble’. I worked at an RSL club until four in the morning, I started a cricket coaching business. I had to work really hard.
“I matured a lot and worked myself out. That’s the reality of working outside of sport.
“It’s not to say contracted players don’t work hard or are ungrateful but it’s easier once you’re out of that situation to see how great an opportunity it is.”
Before last summer Horley made the move from Gordon to the newly promoted Manly club and was one of the stars of the women’s Premier Cricket competition.
Her form once again caught the eye of Breakers powerbrokers and Horley played a handful of WNCL matches as an uncontracted player, managing her busy work schedule with her growing cricket commitments.
That was no easy task but made all the more manageable given Twining’s nurturing encouragement and flexibility.
“Last year when I was asked to come back to (Breakers) training I still had to work and continue on with that ‘uncontracted life’,” Horley said.
“Gav gave me freedom, a clean slate and allowed me to be the cricketer and person I wanted to be seen as. I have more clarity about my game now and performing under pressure. He’s been a great help.”
Despite earning another contract, Horley is not resting on her laurels and is currently playing for Middlesex in England as well as grade cricket in a local men’s competition.
“I want to play as many games as I can within the Breakers season and hopefully also pick up a WBBL contract so I am trying to play as much cricket as I can in while I am here in the UK,” she said.
“I’ve even played a game at Lords with the MCC. It’s surreal how things have changed in a year.”
Breakers teammates Lauren Smith and Emma Hughes are also plying their trade in the UK this off-season, while Healy and Haynes have signed contracts to play in The Hundred later in the year.
The Breakers return to training in June at Cricket NSW’s new facility on the Wilson Park site
NSW Breakers squad for 2022-23 season
Ins: Saskia Horley
Outs: Rachel Trenaman (TAS)
Alyssa Healy (c), Jade Allen, Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Saskia Horley, Emma Hughes, Sammy Jo-Johnson, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Claire Moore, Lauren Smith, Tahlia Wilson