Photo Credit: Cricket NSW
Cricket NSW launched this year’s Women & Girls Week on Saturday, November 18, with one of the country’s most decorated female cricketers in conversation with her fans at Cricket Central.
Alex Blackwell’s visit to Cricket Central coincided with a WBBL match between Sydney Thunder and Perth Scorchers, and fans, especially children, were thrilled to meet the former Australian, NSW Breakers and Thunder star. She spoke to her cricketing journey and the future of women’s and girls’ cricket and generously answered questions her audience asked.
One of Australia’s most successful cricketers, Blackwell is the most capped player in Australian women’s cricket history. In a career spanning 18 years, she played 12 Test matches, 144 One Day Internationals and 95 T20 Internationals. She also played 71 matches with Sydney Thunder, whose fans were thrilled to meet her.
Nechal Dhillon, Cricket NSW’s Head of Community Experience, led the conversation with Blackwell, and presented questions on behalf of fans and the audience. The cricketing hero spoke about growing up and going to school in Yenda, a small town in the Riverina, and being introduced to the game of cricket in school at the age of six.
Blackwell and her sister Kate played cricket at school with a male friend, who really introduced them both to the game. They joined the school team, and then went on to join the local cricket club with their school teammates, they were the only two female junior players in the club!
Growing up, she looked up to the example of Emma George, the champion pole vaulter in the 1990s. Blackwell liked that she was strong, determined and from a country town like her. Her cricket mentor Belinda Clark was also someone who she looked up to.
Clark was instrumental in her introduction of the cricket pathway for the Blackwell sisters. When they were in their early teens, they attended a cricket clinic in Orange, and Clark happened to be there that day. She suggested they go to Sydney and try out for the U16 NSW pathway team, neither of the twins knew anything about the pathway, and the happy coincidence set them on the pathway to both play for Australia.
A young fan asked her what she enjoyed about cricket. Blackwell spoke about how she loved that there are so many different aspects in cricket requiring different skills such as batting, bowling, fielding, which means there is an opportunity for everyone to be involved and make a contribution.
Female cricket has reached new heights today because of heroes such as Blackwell. Now a champion of women’s cricket, as well as diversity in the game, she said she was heartened by how cultural diversity was increasing in cricket clubs and associations but also how she wanted to see the diversity reflected at the elite level of the sport.
Blackwell reminisced on how there wasn’t much visibility for women cricketers when she started playing the sport. She also spoke openly about pressures of playing professional cricket and strategies she used to manage her mental wellbeing.
For example, towards the end of her professional career, she would set herself smaller goals to work on specific aspects of her game, breaking down learnings and working on those learnings in more manageable sized tasks. She would also celebrate the personal wins and successes of her teams, and the team’s success, as well as her own personal successes. This creates more of an enjoyable environment and more celebrations rather than personal losses or failures, she said.
“There are many highs and many lows in cricket, try not to carry the lows with you on to your next games or experiences. Try to look at what you can change to make your game more enjoyable,” Blackwell said.