Nicole Bolton isn’t prepared to call herself an allrounder just yet, but the Perth Scorchers and Australia star is relishing the opportunities she’s been handed with the ball this Rebel WBBL season.
Best known for her exploits with the bat, the Western Australia off-spinner has regularly been thrown the new ball throughout WBBL|03, opening in tandem with English speedster Katherine Brunt.
She’s picked up eight wickets for her efforts and bowled with an economy rate of 6.11, but the biggest blow she’s landed to date came in Thursday’s semi-final win against Sydney Thunder at Perth’s Optus Stadium, when she removed in-form opener – and Australian teammate - Rachael Haynes for one run.
"I don't turn the ball. People need to realise I don't turn the ball," Bolton laughed.
"It is a work in progress," Bolton said of her bowling. "I don’t classify myself as a bowler. I’m a part-timer, but when I get an opportunity, I love it.
"To knock off a player like Rachael early, it’s a huge moment.
Haynes was trapped in front during the second over of the Thunder chase and although fellow opener Rachel Priest showed promising signs, racing to 25, three quick wickets from fellow spinner Emma King and pace bowler Piepa Cleary took the wind out of the Thunder line-up.
"It’s been awesome, Elyse Villani and Tom McDonald, our bowling coach, have thrown me the opportunity (with the new ball) and I’ve taken it and run with it,” Bolton said.
"To go out and get the job done is just awesome."
Bolton finished with 1-22 from her four overs, which, combined with her speedy 37 from 26 deliveries, was enough for her to secure player-of-the-match honours.
She shared a 65-run opening stand with skipper Elyse Villani, who scored 38 from 37, as the Scorchers reached 2-148 from their 20 overs.
"The power play in T20 cricket plays such a pivotal role, so the way Elyse came out such intent, it meant we were able to put on a really good score,” Bolton said.
"We were on par for over 150 for sure, and losing Elyse and I around same time (was) not ideal, but Nat Sciver was tremendous and Heather Graham worked herself into the game.
"On this wicket, runs on the board are huge."
Bolton has also been in red-hot form with the bat, with 477 runs at 34.07 this season, including three half-centuries. Only Villani (519) and Ellyse Perry (500) have scored more runs, and Bolton will have a chance to join the 500-club on Sunday.
The Scorchers will meet either Sydney Sixers – the team they lost to in last year’s final – or Adelaide Strikers in Sunday’s decider.
The location of that match also remains up in the air following the Scorchers’ defeat to Hobart in the men’s Big Bash on Thursday night, with the winner of Friday’s clash between Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades to host the final.
“We’re on cloud nine at the moment,” Bolton said. “Whoever we play, we’ll be ready to go.”