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Carey's calculated call vindicated in stellar season

Ahead of this season's final, WNCL top run-scorer Nicola Carey reveals why declining a Cricket Australia contract has helped her game

The big decision to forego a Cricket Australia contract this season has paid off for Tasmania star Nicola Carey, who ahead of the Women's National Cricket League final was "really happy" with how the summer has panned out.

Twelve months ago, the allrounder – capped 50 times for Australia across ODIs and T20Is – felt she was spending too little time in the middle owing to being a fringe player within the team's highly competitive scramble for spots.

So, when the time came for Cricket Australia to reveal their contracted list in April, it emerged the now 30-year-old had opted against putting pen to paper for the national team, a contract she had held since 2018.

Despite having strong conviction that she was doing the right thing, Carey said it was still a tough call to follow through with.

"It certainly took a bit of thought leading into it," she told cricket.com.au ahead of Saturday's WNCL decider against Queensland.

"I sort of knew that was what I wanted to do, but I guess making the decision is quite hard and it makes it a bit final, doesn't it?

"But they (Cricket Australia) were happy with it and I'm really happy with the final decision. I think it's worked out well in the end."

If you were measuring the success of the decision on statistics alone, Carey's call to spend more time with Tasmania has been a resounding success.

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The left-hander comfortably finished the WNCL regular season as the league's leading run-scorer with 585 at an average of 58.50 (including one century and four half-centuries), ahead of next-best Meg Lanning on 492.

She also took 13 wickets in 12 matches, with an impressive economy rate of just 4.25.

But Carey has not measured it on individual results.

"Regardless of the season I've had, I could have put up less runs and bowled poorly or whatever it may be, I still would have been happy with the decision.

"I don't think stats would've changed how I felt about it. I just wanted to play a bit more cricket, which doesn't guarantee you'll be good at it, but just means you're on the field and getting more consistent game time which is all I wanted.

Nicola Carey reverse-sweeps in Tasmania's WNCL clash against Victoria last week // Getty

"I guess I was lucky enough that every now and then a performance came together, as well as having a really good team around me which has led to a bit of team success."

Carey said the ability to spend an entire pre-season with Tasmania, rather than travelling as a squad member with Australia or Australia A, allowed her to further hone her game and feel settled.

"I guess it was more just having that time. I feel like pre-seasons have been pretty interrupted with tours and what not in the past, which you can't do much about.

"So it was just nice to have a solid block of time to dedicate to a specific part of your game that you might want to work on.

"I just think the consistency of training and game time (is key), because you can train as much as you want, but I think you learn the most when you're out in the middle.

"You can't buy that game time, it's certainly not the same in the nets. It's probably more the game time that's paid dividends I think."

Ahead of tomorrow's final against Queensland at Blundstone Arena, Carey said the prospect of Tasmania winning three consecutive WNCL titles was "amazing".

"To win one and even two – a lot of effort and hard work happens on the field but also behind the scenes within the organisation.

"The support that we get to get ourselves in that position, it means a lot. To have another chance to go again and potentially get three, it's a pretty cool opportunity. We'll try and make the most of that opportunity, and it'd be awesome if we could get the job done."

While she was not part of the Tigers' inaugural title in 2021-22, Carey has fond memories of last summer's final victory over South Australia, which has been dubbed one of the most incredible domestic cricket matches ever played on Australian soil.

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With the Scorpions five wickets down requiring just four runs for victory from the final over, Tasmania took five wickets in six balls (three wickets to seamer Sarah Coyte and two run-outs) to seal a scarcely believable win in the most dramatic fashion.

"I've never played a game like that," Carey said.

"It sort of felt like 'they should win this'. But then it was just 'Coytey' doing Coytey things. Like I'm not even shocked now that I think about it that it actually happened.

"It's pretty outrageous – I don't even know how many wickets she got – and to keep them under four runs. It was actually wild. I would hope it's not as close a game on Saturday."

WNCL 2023-24 standings

Team
Matches played
M
Wins
W
Losses
L
Ties
T
No results
N/R
Net Run Rate
NRR
Deductions
Ded.
Batting Bonus
Bat
Total points
PTS
1 Tasmanian Tigers Women Tasmanian Tigers Women TAS 12 9 2 0 1 0.98 0 5 43
2 Queensland Fire Queensland Fire QLD 12 8 3 0 1 1.224 0 7 41
3 Victoria Women Victoria Women VIC 12 7 5 0 0 0.013 0 4 32
4 Western Australia Women Western Australia Women WA 12 6 6 0 0 -0.113 0 4 28
5 NSW Women NSW Women NSW 12 6 6 0 0 -0.105 0 2 26
6 South Australia Scorpions South Australia Scorpions SA 12 4 8 0 0 -0.063 0 3 19
7 ACT Meteors ACT Meteors ACT 12 1 11 0 0 -2.006 0 0 4

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

T: Ties

N/R: No results

NRR: Net Run Rate

Ded.: Deductions

Bat: Batting Bonus

PTS: Total points