Laura Jolly is a writer for cricket.com.au. She previously wrote for News Corp Australia and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
In many ways, Lauren Cheatle’s life is like that of a typical Australian teenager: school, study, exams, friendships.
Except Cheatle’s life during the six months since she burst onto the international cricket scene in late January has been anything but typical.
The 17-year-old has logged plenty of frequent flyer points since that first Twenty20 at the MCG in late January, with the left-arm quick travelling to New Zealand and India with the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars and attending a training camp with the Sydney Thunder in Dubai.
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Cheatle’s winter will be spent making regular visits to the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane and training with the NSW squad in Sydney, and in September, she’s likely to pull out her passport yet again for the Southern Stars’ tour of Sri Lanka.
Between all this, she’s also managing the not inconsiderable demands of her final year of high school.
It’s a lot for anyone to handle, but Cheatle is taking it in her stride.
"It gets a bit busy around this time with pre-season, I’m doing a lot of travel to Sydney and Brisbane, but school has been great about me juggling both,” Cheatle told cricket.com.au.
It’s been a rapid rise for Cheatle, who had yet to make her debut for the Lend Lease NSW Breakers this time 12 months ago.
Now, she has seven T20 caps – including a World T20 campaign – under her belt, her first Cricket Australia contract, and a Women’s Big Bash League premiership medallion with Sydney Thunder.
She’s also become something of a celebrity in her home town of Bowral, with the population of 12,000 following closely as Cheatle and her Australian teammates fought for a fourth-consecutive World T20 title in March and April.
"They (the people of Bowral) have been great, they’re a great support system for me.
"It’s such a small town and everyone knows about it (cricket) so they’ve been really great."
Cheatle has been regularly compared to another fast bowler who made an impact on the international stage at a very young age – Ellyse Perry, who debuted for the Southern Stars at 16.
Most recently, however, she has been attracting attention for the uncanny likeness her bowling action bears to that of fellow left-armer Mitchell Starc.
The comparison has not been lost on Starc, who has been closely watching Cheatle’s development.
"I've seen her play a little bit for the NSW Breakers. It was interesting to see her action and see how very similar it is to mine," Starc told cricket.com.au.
"She's just got to keep swinging that ball back in. It's nice to see another left-armer come through the ranks, especially on the women's side.
"She's only young and she's got a lot of time ahead of her so, hopefully she can do some great things."
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It might be fair to assume the young quick has spent hours in the nets trying to emulate Starc, but Cheatle – whose cricket hero is, oddly enough, Tasmania batsman George Bailey – insists any likeness between the two is purely coincidental.
"I didn’t try to copy his action or anything,” she added. "It’s just a spooky thing that’s happened."
The daughter of former England county cricketer Giles Cheatle, a slow left-arm spinner who played for Surrey and Sussex, Cheatle credits her father for her passion for the game and for nurturing her development during those early years in Bowral.
"My dad’s been awesome throughout my career,” she said. “He’s one of the reasons I started playing cricket and he’s always been there."
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Now, with her second summer at international level looming, the teenager has set herself some specific goals for the winter months, with a focus on becoming stronger as she looks to match the pace of Southern Stars spearheads Perry and Holly Ferling.
"This pre-season is really about me developing as a cricketer as a whole, so I’m working on my batting a lot, and doing lots of strength (work) in the gym, and keep bowling those balls.
"The stronger you are in your core and legs, the more powerful you’ll be at the crease and the faster you’ll bowl.
"I’m still young, still growing, so strength is a major priority at the moment, so (I want to) get as strong as possible and I’ll get faster."