Circuit-breaker: The story behind Wellington's revival
The in-form Strikers leg-spinner details the off-field decisions leading to on-field success at home and abroad
23 October 2021, 07:02 PM AEST
These days, Amanda-Jade Wellington is worrying less about what other people think.
Her new mindset is yielding rewards both on and off the field – and the newfound confidence it has brought has not been lost on her teammates.
The leg-spinner came into the Weber WBBL fresh off a standout campaign in the inaugural season of The Hundred, where she finished as the competition's most prolific spinner, and the fourth-highest wicket-taker overall after claiming 14 wickets in nine games for runners-up Southern Brave.
Early indications point to that form continuing in the Strikers blue, with the 24-year-old collecting five wickets in three WBBL|07 matches to date.
Wellington puts her form, and more assured approach to her cricket in general, down to several factors: a short break taken from the game during the 2020 preseason, and her focus on simply enjoying cricket, rather exerting energy worrying about things beyond her control.
"I came to a bit of a dead end (at the end of the 2019-20 summer)," Wellington told cricket.com.au ahead of the WBBL season.
"I was rocking up to training and I just felt like I was ticking boxes and I felt like I couldn't really expand or grow my cricket any more.
"I got to a state where I had to step away. My partner Tayler helped me realise I wasn't enjoying it anymore, and I wasn't enjoying going to training. I was just going to tick a box.
"Now I'm in a much better place, which is really nice."
There was never a possibility in Wellington's mind that she would walk away from the game permanently, but having played at the elite level since she was 15 years old, a circuit-breaker was required.
A few months later, Wellington returned to the South Australia set-up refreshed and with a new outlook.
"I thought if I stood away from the game early on, I could catch it early," she explained.
"I'm a senior player, but I'm still so young, I'm hoping I still have 10 years to go.
"I'm glad I caught it early, a lot of people don't identify (the need for a break) early enough.
"(Coming back) my mind was clearer, and I didn't dwell on my performances as much as I would in the past."
Wellington, who famously took a wicket with her first ball in international cricket, played the last of her 21 games for Australia in March 2018 and has remained on the periphery of the national squad in the years since, touring with Australia A in India, England and on home soil.
But the door to the senior side remained firmly shut as her replacement, Victorian Georgia Wareham, rapidly cemented her spot at international level.
Where previously Wellington may have found herself consumed with how her performances were being viewed by national selectors, she is now more content to trust the process and let her cricket talk for itself.
"I dwell on things a lot," Wellington said.
"For me, one thing I craved was (positive) feedback. And if I didn't get that, I felt like I was nowhere where my performances.
"Now I can actually look back and worry about the team's performance first, rather than myself. From that perspective, I'm in such a better place.
"I think (national selection) was always in the back of my mind and I was always worrying about what they were thinking about me up above.
"But I think it's so much better for me to just put it aside and focus on my game and on having fun and on performing for the team I'm currently in."
It is a freeing mindset – one that has also paid off for another former Australia player Elyse Villani, who put her standout domestic form last summer down to the fact she was no longer trying to prove a point to anyone but herself.
Somewhat ironically, the door back into the national side has just creaked open, following the news Wareham will spend an extended period on the sidelines after rupturing her ACL, leaving Australia short one leg-spinner for the upcoming Ashes and ODI World Cup.
Wellington would be considered the leading candidate for the vacancy, with Western Australian Alana King another potential selection.
If a recall does eventuate early next year, Wellington appears well-positioned to make the most of the chance.
"At the moment playing cricket is just fun, I'm having the best time ever, getting to travel to places and play cricket," she said.
"I'm just in a really good space with my cricket."
The change in Wellington's demeanour has been noted by her Strikers teammates, particularly since her return from a successful campaign in The Hundred.
"I reckon she's come back with a whole new confidence," Strikers captain Tahlia McGrath noted this week.
"She's speaking up a lot more in team meetings, she's in complete control of her plans.
"I'll throw the ball to her and she'll tell me exactly what she wants, exactly what she's going to bowl and she's got a new confidence about her this year.
"I've given her a role this year to bowl a few death overs and she's just thrived under that."
Adding balance to Wellington's life are her unique interests away from the game; her famous Pokémon collection and the menagerie of animals she shares with fiancé Tayler McKechnie, which currently includes four dogs, two cats, two sugar gliders, two snakes and one rabbit.
The closure of international borders throughout the pandemic have slowed the growth of the collection, with Wellington forced to cancel a planned trip to Japan, but it is only a temporary roadblock.
"I've got one big Pokémon room, the girls call it the museum," she laughed.
"But it's slowly creeping into the bedroom and everywhere.
"Hopefully, fingers crossed (borders open). I'll take my cricket bags (to Japan) and fill them up again and bring them home."