Record-setter Blackwell to play on in WBBL
Alex Blackwell's WBBL dream set to continue as she hands Thunder captaincy role to Haynes
28 August 2019, 10:12 AM AEST
Australian cricket legend Alex Blackwell will extend her career into a record-equalling 19th domestic season after re-signing on a one-year deal with the Sydney Thunder.
Two seasons after retiring from international cricket, Blackwell will play on in the Rebel Women's Big Bash League but has passed the Thunder leadership onto Australia's vice-captain Rachael Haynes.
Our star duo is locked in, with Rachael Haynes set to take over as captain in @WBBL|05! 👊 MORE: https://t.co/GHIza5FbIO #ThunderNation pic.twitter.com/Ebk4V3TtHD— Sydney Thunder (@ThunderBBL) August 28, 2019
Top-order bat Blackwell, Australia's most capped women's international cricketer, made her NSW Breakers debut in 2001-02 as an 18-year-old.
She will now join West Australian Lauren Ebsary as the longest-serving Australian domestic player since the women went to a full season with the creation of the Women's National Cricket League in 1996-97.
"Continual improvement as a batter and team member is what I always look to achieve," Blackwell, who is the Thunder's all-time leading run-scorer, said.
"This season I will be juggling more responsibilities away from the playing field and I'm confident this will enhance my enjoyment of playing the game."
The 35-year-old had been unsure if last season would be her last and her decision to hand over the captaincy comes with her growing off-field commitments.
She is a director on the Cricket NSW board and has taken up a job as an associate genetics councillor at Sydney Children's Hospital.
Blackwell and Haynes met during a holiday to discuss the change, after it was earlier flagged with Cricket NSW.
It comes at a crucial time for the Thunder, who are set to soon announce a new coach after the retirement of NSW Breakers mentor Jo Broadbent.
They have also lost Australia allrounder Nicola Carey to Hobart before the inaugural stand-alone WBBL competition, which the Thunder begin on October 18 against cross-town rivals Sixers.
"It's a great foundation Alex and Jo created and I am looking forward to continuing that on," Haynes told AAP.
"It's something I've done throughout my career and I'm comfortable in my ability to lead the team.
Haynes is an inaugural member of Thunder’s WBBL squad and has played 57 matches for the club, scoring 1,416 runs at 25.74.
"Alex was really supportive about me taking over.
"We're really happy she has decided to go another year, her presence will be really good to have around the group."
Haynes, who has also re-signed on a two-year deal, is currently the Australia vice-captain and has previously captained Victoria and NSW.
She also led Australia to Ashes success in 2017-18 in the absence of Meg Lanning.
Sydney Thunder is set to open the first ever standalone WBBL season with a televised blockbuster match against the Sydney Sixers under lights at North Sydney Oval on Friday 18 October.
Sydney Thunder WBBL Squad: Rachael Haynes (C), Sam Bates, Alex Blackwell, Lisa Griffith, Saskia Horley, Naomi Stalenberg, Tahlia Wilson