Young and old alike reveling in inaugural WBBL

07 January 2016

It's on for young and old in the WBBL // Getty Images

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One of the most pleasing aspects of the WBBL is the number of new and old players gracing the field

About the Writer:

Lisa Sthalekar is an Australian cricket legend who was the first player to score 1,000 runs and take 100 wickets in ODIs in her glittering Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars career. This summer, she is staging a comeback for the Sydney Sixers in the Women's Big Bash League.

While Network Ten, Cricket Australia, administrators of the game and supporters of women's cricket are grinning over the success of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League, the players also have a lot to be happy about.

Cricketers from around the world descended to Australia to play in the WBBL and that has created an amazing opportunity to learn from each other – whether it be knowledge of players' strengths and weakness, or skills, tactics and match preparation.

The other pleasing aspect is the number of new and old players we have seen grace the field.

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Ash Barty has made the transition from elite tennis to cricket and we have seen some young guns who haven’t yet had the opportunity to play in the Women’s National Cricket League take to the field and performance extremely well.

These include Alana King (Melbourne Stars), Sophie Molineux (Melbourne Renegades), Maisy Gibson and Belinda Vakarewa (both Sydney Thunder), who have  been making the most of the chance to play and learn from some of the best in the world.

Watch: Molineux, Wyatt help Renegades home in thriller

At the other end of the spectrum, it has given older players an extra lease on their cricket lives. Both Shelley Nitschke and I have come out of retirement and just before New Years Eve, former NSW and ACT player Charlotte Anneveld became the latest past player picked up.

At the age of 33 and having played her last competitive game for the Meteors in November 2012, Anneveld received a call from Thunder General Manager Nick Cummins. It was certainly the last thing she thought that she would be doing in 2016.

An SOS call was sent out after an injury to Sam Bates ruled her out for the remainder of WBBL|01 and Erin Osborne suffered split webbing, leaving the Thunder were in need of an extra spinner. The coaching staff obviously felt the experience of Anneveld was exactly what the team needed.

Anneveld, who had been playing in the Sydney Women’s Cricket Competition for her old club Gordon, was all too happy to take the call.

"After a complete break from cricket, I still felt that I had something to give back, especially to my club Gordon, who had helped me enormously throughout my career," Anneveld said.

Having played in a few matches with Anneveld this year, she certainly hasn’t lost any of her ability to hit the ball powerfully, tweak those spinners and provide plenty of commentary to the opposition.

There's another thing that I don’t think players ever lose: competitiveness and passion.

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Anneveld, known to get emotional when she sang the NSW Breakers team song and who wrote a passionate letter to the group that she read out when the team were struggling, had no hesitation in accepting.

"It was actually my birthday when I attended my first training session, it was four hours long. I don’t think that I had trained that much in the last four years," she laughed.

Though, when she donned on the lime-green uniform for her first match, the nerves quickly returned.

"I haven’t been this nervous since my first game for the Breakers. I started to question whether I was able to do this again. Compete at this level," she reflected.

Her questions were soon answered as when she returned the figures of 1-5 and hit the winning runs against Brisbane Heat, smashing the only ball she faced to the boundary to bring up the victory.

"I hate running, so I was always looking to smash the ball," she said.

The only thing that has changed about Charlotte Anneveld is the fact that she is now the first player to want an ice bath. She's also meticulous about her recovery to ensure that she can continue to enjoy this WBBL ride.

Watch: Highlights from the first Sydney Smash

To top things off, on January 16 – the same day as the second Sydney derby between the Sixers and the Thunder - Cricket NSW will be hosting a function for past players.

It will be the first time that Anneveld will be presented with a Baggy Blue, having missed the last few events because of work. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more tears shed when that happens, as that cap will become her most treasured possession and rightly so.

And who knows, there may even be some other future WBBL players in that room. Which past player do you think should come out of retirement next year?

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