Dr Redmayne prescribes Big Bash tonic for 2020 blues
Straddling two states and two careers amid a year unlike any other, this Heat recruit is prepared for anything as she approaches WBBL06
Laura Jolly previously wrote for News Corp Australia and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and is now cricket.com.au Women's Cricket Editor providing dedicated coverage to all aspects of the women's game
"For a little while there, I wondered if I could justify playing cricket if there's a global pandemic."
Georgia Redmayne had the medicine-and-cricket balancing act down to a fine art.
It was something she had perfected through years of first study and then working as a doctor, all while playing in both the Rebel WBBL and the 50-over Women's National Cricket League, and making appearances for Australia A.
But the circumstances of this year have been something else entirely.
After the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, those nagging thoughts – could she keep playing? Would there even be a cricket season? – quickly emerged at the back of the Brisbane Heat and Queensland wicketkeeper-batter's mind.
Fortunately for the second-year doctor, her colleagues and the people of Queensland, the pandemic there has so far been relatively well contained.
Tweed Hospital, where she has worked since graduating from medicine at the University of New South Wales at the end of 2018, had not received an active case when Redmayne spoke to cricket.com.au.
Those factors made it easier for the 26-year-old to continue her juggling act this summer, and after spending the first half of this year immersed in being a full-time doctor, she is now in the thick of preparations for WBBL|06.
With the tournament being played in a bio-secure hub in Sydney across a five-week period, there's no option of being able to continue part-time work during that time.
"There are some times where I feel a little guilty, thinking, What if there was a major pandemic outbreak and I was taking time off to play cricket?" Redmayne admitted when speaking to cricket.com.au after signing for the Heat.
"But that's my job as well, and it's something I love and gives me a lot of energy and focus that I take back to the hospital.
"But it is lucky we're under control at the moment, so it is nice to be able to enjoy both the jobs I have.
"That's given me the freedom to not feel guilty about taking time off to play cricket in the middle of a pandemic."
Redmayne's cricket and medicine journeys have so far taken her to four states and three Big Bash clubs.
A Lismore native who came through the NSW pathway, her breakthrough opportunity at state level came with Tasmania and the Hobart Hurricanes in 2016-17.
For three years, she was a fly-in-fly-out cricketer, juggling her sport with her medical studies at the University of New South Wales in Coffs Harbour.
After graduating in 2019, a requirement for Redmayne to work her first year as a doctor in NSW triggered a parting of ways with Tasmania, then Hobart.
Determined to continue playing elite-level cricket, Redmayne targeted a post-graduation job at a hospital near a major airport and found the perfect solution in Tweed Hospital.
On the NSW-Queensland border, it was then possible for Redmayne to take on a Queensland state contract and, despite living and working across two different states, home and both jobs were close together.
But with no room on the Brisbane Heat list for WBBL|05 – and with Australian star Beth Mooney installed behind the stumps – Redmayne took up a contract with the Perth Scorchers.
Twelve months later, their roles have reversed – Mooney has jumped ship to the Scorchers, paving the way for Redmayne to sign with the Heat.
"I'm really excited, it's a special group to be joining," Redmayne said.
"I'm there with Queensland so I know a lot of the squad really well and I've played with them before, but it'll be nice to be with them for the whole season and playing in one place.
"It's rare for me to live and play in two franchises all in the one state … that's only taken five or six years.
"It's nice to feel a little more settled."
Redmayne was the first woman to score a 50-over century for Tasmania and struck a century for Australia A against India A in the same format last December.
Now, she hopes that 'settled' feeling will lay the foundation to unlocking a new level in her T20 game.
A hectic 2019 saw Redmayne undertake her first two hospital rotations in general medicine and orthopaedic surgery before being called up for Australia A's tour of the United Kingdom last July.
She then returned home to launch herself into a stint in the emergency department alongside preseason training, all before dashing across to Perth to join a new club.
It was a less than ideal lead-in to a WBBL season and Redmayne's sole season with the Scorchers yielded just 137 runs from 10 innings, batting below experienced internationals Meg Lanning, Amy Jones, Natalie Sciver and Nicole Bolton.
Unwilling to make excuses, improving her T20 batting has been a focus for Redmayne this preseason.
The key is overcoming her naturally conservative instincts and tendency to overthink things, and it was those traits she put to one side in the first round of Queensland Premier Cricket last month when, opening the batting for the Gold Coast Dolphins, she hit a stunning 146 from just 85 balls. Despite being a 50-over match, it was a performance that wouldn't have looked out of place in the teal of the Brisbane Heat.
"I haven't really unlocked a lot of what I'm capable of in the T20 game," she said. "So, I'm trying to free up and have that trust in myself and my skills that I can play a more expansive game and be more aggressive at the top of the order.
"It's been really good working with the coaching staff, working on switching on for ball one and backing my skills rather than fearing that I'll get out.
"For me, with my personality I tend to be a bit more conservative and try to be more consistent, so this is a change of thinking."
That fresh approach and a willingness to be flexible will be critical to fitting in with the Heat's approach.
Mooney's departure has left a vacancy at the top of the order alongside New Zealand international Maddy Green, but Redmayne is not yet sure where she will slot into coach Ashley Noffke's plans.
Other options include powerful hitter Grace Harris, or Australia allrounder Jess Jonassen.
"The good thing about the Heat is they seem to be really flexible and they're very much focused on match-ups and that type of thing," Redmayne explained.
"They've indicated they want me to step up at the top but I might also be in the middle-order.
"I've played several games in both roles, so I'm comfortable either way.
"It's nice that it's not so much where you come in, but what you do with the balls you face, so that's a refreshing approach.
"There are so many players in the Heat line-up, like the Harris girls, that can bat anywhere and take a team apart, so I think the main thing is to be really flexible and that's exciting."
Settled is a far cry from the feeling in Tweed Hospital in March.
As tragic stories unfolded across the world from Italy and New York, and as Australia's borders snapped shut and restrictions came into force, staff moved quickly to prepare for the worst.
"When it first hit, everyone was panic stations and we were having meetings every second day in the hospital about the disaster steps, how we'd filter patients through the hospital and talking about worst-case scenarios," Redmayne said.
"There was a lot of planning going on throughout those early months, in March and April, with how we were going to respond to it.
"For a long time we were waiting for a tsunami to hit … we were lucky that it didn't."
Instead, for a surreal period the opposite happened, as lockdown meant far fewer patients were admitted to the hospital than during normal times.
Redmayne, on leave from any cricket duties, immersed herself in the medical world, taking on extra shifts and making the most of a rare period where she was not dividing her time between employers.
"It was a strange time - April was the quietest the hospital has ever been," she said.
"I took on a lot of extra after-hours and weekend shifts, which was a good experience.
"When coronavirus first hit, cricket was the furthest thing from my mind.
"I've spent so long balancing them together, so from a work perspective, I was able to fully invest in medicine.
"It's probably the most I've enjoyed working during that period, where I wasn't thinking or worried about cricket at all and I felt I got a lot out of it at the hospital."
While her hospital fortunately escaped the avalanche they feared early in the pandemic, like most people, Redmayne has encountered unique challenges this year.
She lives just a few kilometres from work, a situation that is extremely convenient in normal times – but not so much when her home is in Queensland, and Tweed Hospital is in NSW.
"It's a nightmare," a laughing Redmayne said of the border closure. "Luckily because I'm a border resident I get a special pass, but there's been so many complexities since it came in, at one point I felt like it was changing every two days so it made the local traffic an absolute nightmare."
It led to a creative solution, after tallying up the hours she was losing waiting to cross the border each day – precious time for a semi-professional athlete trying to stay in peak form.
"One day I cracked it, I was stuck in traffic, I'm driving two kilometres to get home and it had been 45 minutes and it wasn't moving," Redmayne continued.
"So, I got a bike during lockdown, and I took to riding it to and from work every day so I didn't have to get stuck in the one-hour queue at the border.
"I find I tend to get a bit grumpy when I'm stuck in traffic, so it was nice to ride my bike and get through a lot quicker.
"It also freed up a few more hours in my day when I finish work, to go to the gym or do running.
"It's only a couple of kilometres, so it's forced me to realise I should have been riding in the first place."
Medicine and elite sport, in their own ways, are two of the more demanding professions a person could undertake.
Combining both is another challenge altogether, but for Redmayne, they balance each other out.
"They're both pretty full-on but cricket-wise, I find it helps to have something else going on," she explained.
"I'm the type of player who internalises and goes over their performances a lot, so it's nice to clear my mind and go and do a shift at work so I'm not thinking about cricket, then I can go back in with a clear mind and focus on my game.
"Medicine can be a rollercoaster, you never know what the day is going to look like when you go in, especially when I was doing palliative care.
"You come home and you've had five patients die, and you've had to deal with some really complex social situations with family and friends … it's nice to not take that work home with you, and be able to go and do a gym session or nets session and escape that way.
"If you're a doctor and you get too caught up in your work and you take it home with you, that's not great for your well-being, either."