Blackwell calls time on Thunder career

Australian cricket icon Alex Blackwell will step away from the WBBL drawing a close on a legendary 18-year career

Australia legend Alex Blackwell has announced her retirement from the Rebel Women's Big Bash League, drawing the curtain on an 18-year career.

Fresh from a match-winning innings for the Sydney Thunder that kept alive their finals hopes for this year's competition, Blackwell will play the final regular season match this Sunday against the Melbourne Renegades.

Blackwell yesterday wound back the clock at Manuka Oval, hitting nine fours and a six before being dismissed for 65 in the penultimate over. Her brilliant 47-ball knock helped the Thunder post 6-162 before holding on for an 18-run win that kept alive their slim finals hopes.

She told teammates after the match she would retire at the end of this season.

"I'd decided before the match that I was going to retire," said Blackwell, who sits in seventh place on the WBBL's all-time highest run scorers' list. "It's got to come to an end at some point.

Blackwell winds back the clock in classic knock

"There's been many highlights, but what's been really cool [this season] is watching the next generation of Thunder players grabbing their opportunities. It's been very special to be a part of that – I'm really satisfied.

"I've been really happy with [the role of] mentoring out in the middle. I had an opportunity against the Stars to bat with [16-year-old] Phoebe Litchfield and Saskia Horley.

"It was good to talk to them about what the good options were to go to - and to help clarify in their minds what was on, and where to back themselves."

Blackwell rates leading the Thunder to the inaugural WBBL title in 2015-16 her greatest achievement with the club, having pulled stumps on a 251-game international career in February 2018.

Having made her international debut in an ODI against England in January 2003, Blackwell played 12 Tests, 144 ODIs and 95 T20Is, more than any other Australian woman. She finished with 5,250 international runs to her name: 444 in Tests, 3,492 in ODIs and 1,314 in T20Is, where she is one of just seven Australians to have scored more than 1,000 T20I runs.

Mix Tape: Alex Blackwell

She was part of Australia’s World Cup wins in 2005 and 2013 and captained the team to their first T20 World Cup title in the Caribbean in 2010, while also being part of their winning XIs in 2012 and 2014.

She also holds the record for the most matches and most runs for the Sydney Thunder, men or women, with 71 matches and 1,751 runs at 35.02 to her name so far.

She admitted the heartbreak of last summer's WBBL finals series in which the Thunder were beaten on the final ball by the Brisbane Heat, prompted her to have one more season.

Birkett's screamer seals thrilling win

"I was heartbroken, but also amazed, by last year's semi-final," said Blackwell. "I … well, a little bit selfishly … thought to myself, 'I've worked so hard to get to this point and contributed to cricket for a long period of time for it to reach this point'.

"I thought the WBBL was an amazing competition to be a part of and decided I could go again – and I'm pleased I did.

"It's been good fun, and I've enjoyed supporting Rachael Haynes because I think she's led the team very well."

Blackwell remains the leading run scorer for NSW in the WNCL with 4,788 runs at 46.94 from 139 matches, including 11 centuries 30 half-centuries.