Former tennis pro signs with Heat

Ash Barty takes giant leap in new career with Women's Big Bash League contract

The Women’s Big Bash League will feature a former professional tennis player with Ash Barty joining the Brisbane Heat this summer.

Barty, who was ranked No.129 in the world in singles and won the Wimbledon Girls championship in 2011, is one step closer to completing a remarkable career change having only taken up cricket in July.

The 19-year-old’s interest in cricket was sparked when she spoke to the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars at a training camp earlier this year, and after enquiry with Cricket Australia, Barty began training with the Queensland Fire in Brisbane under Heat and Fire coach Andy Richards.

And it appears the Ipswich product is a quick learner, scoring 63 from 60 balls and taking 2-13 from four overs playing for Western Suburbs in Brisbane’s Women’s Premier Cricket competition last weekend.

“The girls and Andy and the coaches have been brilliant at helping out, as I was basically starting from scratch,’’ Barty said on her formative days in cricket.

“I’d played cricket in the backyard and mucking around at school but this was a big challenge.”

“Getting the basics right has been the focus since I started to train.

“I am obviously still learning but being part of a team is something I really was keen to experience and I am very grateful to everyone who has helped me with that.”

Barty means business // Brisbane Heat

Coach Richards has applauded Barty’s desire and willingness to learn and develop her skills in a foreign sport.

“It is early days of course but Ash is enjoying being part of a team and is learning every time she picks up a bat in the nets or goes on the field to play,’’ Richards said.

“She’s fitted into the group really well and it’s a credit to her the way she has gone about things.

“Ash works hard and she is not afraid to ask questions and then go away and concentrate on the areas where she wants to improve.”

Barty is the latest Australian to try their hand at another sport, following in the footsteps of former rugby league star Jarryd Hayne who is now playing for the San Francisco 49ers in America’s National Football League. 

In Sydney, the Sixers have secured the services of hard-hitting allrounder Ashleigh Gardner.

Gardner, 18, says she is looking forward to playing alongside her idols, including Southern Star Ellyse Perry.

"... all the girls that have been joining the Sixers are some of my idols," she said.

"I do look up to Pez (Perry), she's a very good player and of course, because she plays for Australia."

Gardner made history earlier this year when she became the first female winner of the Lord Taverners Indigenous Cricketer of the Year award, in addition to taking home the Women's Player of the Tournament award in the Imparja Cup.

Gardner in the magenta of the Sixers // Sydney Sixers