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'Next big thing' ready to shine for Spirit

Rising allrounder ready and raring to go for the start of the Women's National Cricket League this Friday

When Australia's current contracted players were recently asked to name the 'next big thing' to watch this summer, one name cropped up time and time again: Sophie Molineux.

The 19-year-old is only one year out of high school, but she has already represented Australia A and earlier this year became the inaugural winner of the Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year Award at the AB Medal evening.

The Victoria and Melbourne Renegades allrounder – who bats in the top-order and bowls left-arm orthodox spin - appears poised for a long and successful career in Australian colours if she continues her current trajectory, and having just completed her first full preseason for the VicSpirit Molineux is poised to reach new heights in 2017-18.

"I moved to Melbourne around Big Bash time last year, so this has been my first full preseason," Molineux, who hails from Bairnsdale in Victoria's east, told cricket.com.au.

"Not doing year 12 helps as well. The last couple of years I was trying to juggle school and everything so cricket wasn't my primary focus but this year it is, so it's really good.

"Having regular access to coaches and facilities means I've come through the preseason with a much better understanding of my game and what I need to work on.

"I feel like I'm starting to understand my batting a little bit better which helps, I've picked up on a few things I can do to widen my shot options.

"Having access to strength and conditions coaches means I feel like I've improved on that aspect as well."

Molineux has the Strikers in a spin

Named in Cricket Australia's inaugural Women's National Performance Squad alongside seven of the country's other most promising young guns, Molineux had the chance to train with the current Australian squad in Brisbane last month.

Her time at the NPS camp didn't exactly go to plan, with an untimely concussion at training shortly beforehand meaning she joined her fellow NPS inductees a week late, but Molineux can already see the value in simply spending time with Australia's top players.

It also gave her a chance to connect with Australia assistant coach Tim Coyle, who has taken over as Renegades head coach this Rebel WBBL season.

"When (NPS coach) Leah Poulton rang me up and asked if I'd like to be involved, I don't think I thought twice about it," she said.

"It's a big honour to be part of the first program.

"Being around the Australian women, seeing how they went about it all and how professional and hard-working they are, it was good to see that and come home with a few ideas."

Get your tickets for the Ashes!

Not only was Molineux impressed by the country's top players, she's also made an impression on them.

"She's got a lot of talent and she's a quiet achiever, but someone who can be really great," Australia allrounder Ellyse Perry told cricket.com.au late last month.

Australia opener Beth Mooney believes Molineux has already come a long way from last summer.

"She had a good season last year and has people talking about her early on, I reckon she's come a long way with her skill set so I'm really excited to see where she can take her game in the next 12 months," Mooney said.

Molineux will be in action for Victoria on Friday when they meet the ACT Meteors at Manuka Oval in the opening round of the Women's National Cricket League.


Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes

Schedule


First ODI Allan Border Field, October 22

Brisbane Charity Partner: Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust

Second ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 26

Third ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 29

Coffs Junior Cricket Association Partners: Coffs Harbour District JCA, Nambucca Bellingen JCA, and Clarence River JCA

Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12

First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17

North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation

Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19

Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21

Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT