Weatherald quits SA seeking fresh start with Tassie

The 28-year-old opener will move to Tasmania after spending eight seasons with the Redbacks

Having stood out of cricket for the latter half of the previous season for mental health reasons, Jake Weatherald will resume his career with Tasmania in 2023-24 as he looks to recapture the form that carried him to the cusp of international selection five years ago.

Weatherald, 28, told the SA Cricket Association he was looking for a fresh start and new opportunities after eight years with the Redbacks and will move to Tasmania after signing a two-year deal to work under men's head coach (and former Australia assistant coach) Jeff Vaughan.

The Darwin-born opener, who is currently in the UK playing his second season with Barnsley Woolley Miners (where he is also high performance coach) in the Yorkshire Premier League, remains contracted to Adelaide Strikers in the KFC BBL for the next two seasons. 

But after a frustrating few years, in which he's battled several injury setbacks as well as a couple of mental health breaks from the game, Weatherald will add further firepower to Tasmania's already productive top-order.

He joins incumbent openers Caleb Jewell and Tim Ward – both of whom won selection for the recent Australia A series in New Zealand – at the Tigers, who finished fifth on the Marsh Sheffield Shield and bottom of the Marsh One Day Cup competition last summer. 

"I’m really excited and grateful to the Tigers for this opportunity," Weatherald said in a statement issued by Cricket Tasmania today confirming his move. 

"I’m obviously also incredibly thankful to South Australian cricket for giving me my start and my initial opportunity, but I’m looking forward to embracing a new environment and continuing to learn so I can continue to grow my game in the coming years.

"I’m 28 and think I still have the opportunity to take my game to another level, so I’m looking forward to getting that journey underway in Hobart shortly." 

Weatherald whacks Tasmania for ninth first-class ton

Weatherald has not played first-class or list-A cricket since he scored 100 in the first innings of SA's hefty Shield win at Blundstone Arena last December, an innings that surely caught the eye of his opponents-turned teammates. 

"We’re really excited about securing Jake’s services for at least the next two years,” said Vaughan, who played 26 Shield matches for SA from 1997-2002 before taking on the coaching role in Tasmania. 

"It was a really great opportunity that came to us during the contracting period that can only be seen as win-win for both parties. 

"We think Jake can bring some valuable experience and cricket IQ to our top order across both the white and red-ball formats of the game, but is also at an age where he can continue to develop his game and improve. 

"While there are still a couple of details to be finalised, we’re really happy with where our list is at for the coming season in terms of the cricketers we have but, more importantly, the people we have on our list.

"We really think Jake can fit well into our group that operates on this philosophy and make a great contribution to the future growth of Tasmanian cricket." 

After suffering an abdominal strain when playing for the Strikers against Brisbane Heat shortly before Christmas last year, Weatherald informed SA he would be taking a break "to work on his mental health and wellbeing" and would be unavailable for the remainder of the 2022-23 season. 

It was the second time the gifted strokemaker had taken time away from the game, having withdrawn from a Shield game early in 2020-21 when COVID-19 isolation measures were at their most severe before returning to the field later in the summer. 

Weatherald leaves SA as the state's fourth-highest scoring Shield opener with 3837 runs at 34.26 (including nine centuries), behind ex-Test representatives Les Favell (6846 at 39.57), Andrew Hilditch (6056 at 44.86) and Greg Blewett (4725 at 43.35). 

He also played 39 one-day games for SA from which he peeled off four centuries, and was the hero of the Strikers' sole BBL title to date when he thrashed 115 off 70 balls in the final of BBL|07 against Hobart Hurricanes. 

His highest first-class score of 198 also came against Tasmania, at Adelaide Oval in 2019. 

Weatherald cracks career-best 198

In a statement issued today, SACA's high performance boss Tim Nielsen paid tribute to the hard-working opener who began his tenure in Adelaide with the Emerging Redbacks program in 2014-15. 

"Jake has been a big contributor to Redbacks cricket for many years and we thank him for all his efforts," Nielsen said. 

"Jake has identified a fresh start as an important part of his career moving forward, and SACA are supportive of this new, exciting opportunity in front of him. 

"The most important thing for Jake is that he is happy, healthy and playing cricket and we hope this new chapter goes well for him." 

It was after Weatherald lost his Emerging Redbacks contract in 2015 that he returned to Darwin and worked tirelessly to show SA he was worthy of senior selection.

That came in 2016-17 when he made his interstate debut in all three formats, and within two years he was being hailed by pundits including former Australia fast bowler Brett Lee as a future international player. 

"He will definitely play cricket for Australia at some stage, I hope it’s this season," Lee said after Weatherald blasted 261 runs at better than a run-per-ball as an opener in the 2018-19 domestic one-day competition. 

"This guy’s a freak... he is the future of Australian cricket."

The previous summer, Weatherald had taken part in an intra-squad trial match in Darwin that featured incumbent and aspiring Test players ahead of the men's team tour to Bangladesh. 

But despite scoring 96 (from 52 balls) for David Warner's team in one of those practice games, and finishing 2017-18 and 2019-20 as second-highest scoring opener in the Shield matches behind Daniel Hughes (NSW) and Matthew Renshaw (Queensland) respectively, his quest for higher honours remains unrealised. 

Weatherald won a reputation for his assiduous approach and innovative thinking towards training, and is forever searching for methods that will enable him to take his game to the next level. 

"I'm a firm believer in that nothing should ever be the same for the sake of being the same," he told in 2020. 

"If you're not growing, you're dying." 

SA will announce their contract list for the 2023-24 season next week.