Sutherland a Star in the making
Annabel Sutherland has a huge future in the game if these predictions from her Stars teammates are anything to go by
10 January 2019, 09:12 AM AEST
Young gun Annabel Sutherland is winning plenty of fans this Rebel WBBL season, with her Melbourne Stars teammates tipping the teenager to evolve into one of the game's leading allrounders.
Sutherland is just 17 years old and still has a year of high school left to complete, but incredibly she's playing her third season of Big Bash cricket and her second in the Stars green after shifting from cross-town rivals Renegades ahead of WBBL|03.
The speedy right-armer has had mixed results in a WBBL|04 that's seen run rates skyrocket, but she was particularly impressive against Sydney Thunder at the weekend when she captured 2-17 from her four overs, taking the key wickets of Australian vice-captain Rachael Haynes and India T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur.
It was a display that prompted former South Africa skipper and Stars import Mignon du Preez to make a bold call about Sutherland's potential.
"It's super exciting and really nice to know the future for Australia is really bright," du Preez remarked of Sutherland last weekend.
"She's really talented … mark my words, I think she might be the next (Ellyse) Perry for them."
Sutherland's opened the bowling for the Stars in all 12 matches they've played in WBBL|04, a telling display of confidence from captains Erin Osborne and Kristen Beams given their squad also possesses experienced pacer Holly Ferling.
"It's exciting to work with those (young players), the ceiling for these guys is amazing," Beams noted earlier in the season.
"I think Sutherland is a foot taller than she was a year ago … she's bowling quicker, she's got incredible smarts for the game.
"She keeps things really simple and she's really clear on what's she trying to do from a planning point of view.
"What wouldn't I have done to be a 17-year-old who did that, because I certainly wasn't like that myself."
Sutherland's had fewer opportunities with the bat than ball this season, but the teenager – who will soon begin her year 12 studies in Melbourne – has been tipped to evolve into a handy allrounder.
There were signs of that potential against the Strikers at Adelaide Oval last month when she struck an unbeaten 23 from 19 deliveries; and Beams can only see her having more of an impact in the seasons to come.
"We haven't seen the best of what she can do with the bat," Beams said.
"I think she's going to put a lot of girls under pressure in the top order of this team."
Sutherland captured 4-20 in her Melbourne Stars debut against the Strikers at Adelaide Oval last summer - one year ago on Wednesday, to be exact - in what was a stunning display from the then-16-year-old.
The daughter of former Cricket Australia chief executive officer James and younger sibling of Renegades allrounder Will, it's hardly surprisingly Sutherland has ended up in the family business.
As she explained to cricket.com.au ahead of the summer, shortly after wrapping up a stint with the National Performance Squad at Brisbane's Bupa National Cricket Centre, her cricket career began in the backyard.
"My older brother started out playing the game pretty young in the backyard and I'm a pretty competitive person, so I was always keen to try and do whatever he was doing," Sutherland said.
"He'd play a fair bit with dad in backyard and I'd just want to join in so it started from there."
Sutherland's school commitments meant she was only able to spend several weeks at the NCC during the winter while her fellow NPS squad members were there for two months in total.
But it was nonetheless an invaluable opportunity for Sutherland to train under CA high performance coach Leah Poulton and alongside the likes of Australia captain Meg Lanning and spearhead Megan Schutt.
"Megan Schutt was really good in giving some of us fast bowlers some bowling tips and tricks, especially when she was talking about her variations," Sutherland recalled.
"All the girls were really good and always willing to have a chat, it was very good to pick their brain a little bit."
Cricket versus school is a juggling act that will continue this year while she completes Year 12, but there's no question for Sutherland about where her priorities must lie – for now, at least.
"My family pretty good in terms of making sure I'm well balanced and not doing too much cricket, school is the priority at the moment," she said.
But Sutherland is just as eager to learn on the cricket field as off it, and she's determined to make the most of every opportunity this summer.
"I'm just trying to learn as much as I can … and get as much as I can from a learning and development perspective," she said.