Teenage Darlington becomes youngest WBBL captain
Hannah Darlington will lead the Sydney Thunder this season in the absence of regular skipper Rachael Haynes
14 October 2021, 05:21 PM AEST
Hannah Darlington says she will draw on the experience of captaining her state in two games last summer after being named the youngest captain in the history of the WBBL.
At 19 years and 262 days, Darlington has been handed the Sydney Thunder captaincy in the absence of regular skipper Rachael Haynes, who is set to miss the club’s entire title defence after returning to Sydney for the birth of her first child with partner Leah Poulton.
With no matches scheduled to be played in NSW and borders remaining closed, Haynes will not be able to re-join the Thunder less restrictions ease earlier than expected.
Darlington became the youngest-ever NSW captain last summer when she filled in for Alyssa Healy in two Women’s National Cricket League matches.
She becomes the youngest skipper in the tournament’s history, surpassing current Renegades captain Sophie Molineux, who is 23, and national captain Meg Lanning, who was also 23 when she captained the Melbourne Stars in WBBL|01.
"It’s a huge honour," Darlington said.
"I’ve been part of this club for nearly five years now and supported it the whole way through.
"To have this opportunity to step in for Rach, who’s been a massive influence on my leadership style, is pretty special and I’m ready to lead a team I’m passionate to be a part of.
"It was an amazing experience to captain the Breakers, that was another dream come true, and I had Rach and other couple of leadership group players out there with me (for those games).
"It definitely was a big learning curve but it prepared me quite well to take on the reins (at the Thunder)."
It continues what as been a meteoric rise for the pace-bowling allrounder; she was named the WBBL|05 Young Gun in her first season, and made the team of the tournament in WBBL|06.
She was called into the national squad for the first time for March’s tour of New Zealand, and made her ODI and T20I debuts against India in the recently completed multi-format series, becoming the third Indigenous woman to represent Australia.
Coach Trevor Griffin said Darlington was the "natural choice" to replace Haynes.
"Hannah is somebody who is passionate about the Thunder Nation, and she's shown leadership qualities over the last two seasons and was just a natural choice," he said.
"She's somebody that the team hold in high regard, and she goes out onto the field with real passion in her heart and lives and breathes our culture."
Darlington was named captain at the Thunder’s shirt presentation ceremony on Thursday, where the players and staff connected to country with traditional owners, who performed a smoking ceremony for the players and staff on the banks of the Derwent River.
Darlington is one of two Indigenous players on the Thunder list alongside close friend Anikya Learoyd, and the pair shared their stories with the rest of the group, including new teammates Corinne Hall, Jessica Davidson, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and Issy Wong.
"It’s a commitment we made last year to have this shirt presentation (each season), and we’d have loved to do this back in Sydney, but we’re here in Hobart on some beautiful land and with people who came and were willing to put this ceremony on for us," Darlington said.
"It was a special day not only for me and Annika, but for the whole group."