Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars legend Shelley Nitschke will dust off her kit bag after being lured out of retirement by the Adelaide Strikers for the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League season.
Nitschke called time on her international and domestic career in 2011, but the chance to be part of history in the WBBL made it an easy decision for the 38-year-old allrounder to join the Strikers.
“The game’s changing," Nitschke said. “I see it as a really fun opportunity to be a part of.”
After making her Southern Stars debut in a one-day international against India in 2004, Nitschke played six Tests, 80 ODIs and 36 Twenty20s in a career that saw her named the ICC Women’s Player of the Year in 2010, while she earned the Australian Women's International Player of the Year award on four consecutive occasions.
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She helped the Southern Stars to victory in the 2005 Women’s World Cup and 2010 Women’s World T20, and was the world’s leading T20 wicket-taker and Australia’s leading T20 runs-scorer when she retired.
Having scored 3,118 international runs across all formats and collected 153 wickets with her left-arm spin, Nitschke’s experience and expertise will be priceless at the Strikers, where she will take up a dual role as an assistant coach to head mentor Andrea McCauley.
"Being offered a coaching role is a good thing for my development,” Nitschke said. “It’s really exciting. I think the Women’s Big Bash League is going to be a great thing for women’s cricket.
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“There have obviously been the big changes in the contracts and the conditions that the girls are now under which is fantastic for them, and that’s now filtering down to the domestic scene as well and the development of the Women’s Big Bash League.
“I think it’s (WBBL) going to be fantastic for the wider cricket community, it will give some of the young girls that are now starting to come along to the (men’s) games some role models in the women’s game.
“To be able to see some women playing in the Strikers uniform is going to hopefully help the promotion, and for them to be able to see a pathway is really important.”
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The chance to play in front of a home crowd on Adelaide Oval on New Year’s Eve in a KFC T20 Big Bash League double-header was also a big drawcard for Nitschke.
“I won’t lie, I’m pretty keen to get out on the new Adelaide Oval on New Year’s Eve,” she said.
“That’s going to be probably one of the highlights of our season. I think it might be one of our only double-headers in the draw, so that’s going to be pretty exciting for everybody and hopefully we can get a good crowd there.”
Adelaide Strikers General Manager Bronwyn Klei said she was delighted to have secured a player of Nitschke’s calibre.
“She has had a large amount of success at international level having played a pivotal role in Australia’s 2005 World Cup and 2010 World Twenty20 title wins, and with that experience comes a wealth of knowledge that will be invaluable to the group," Klei said.
Nitschke will strengthen a Strikers line-up already boasting the talents of current Southern Stars quicks Megan Schutt and Sarah Coyte, and England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor.
The Strikers will begin their WBBL season on December 12, when they meet Hobart Hurricanes in Launceston.
Adelaide Strikers WBBL squad: Sarah Coyte, Shelley Nitschke, Megan Schutt, Sarah Taylor