Litchfield locked in as Thunder chase WBBL title repeat
Sydney Thunder young gun Phoebe Litchfield has had an unorthodox pre-season but in her third WBBL season knows now is the time to deliver for the defending champions
11 October 2021, 06:54 PM AEST
There would not be many cricketers more excited to have a hit this week than Sydney Thunder young gun Phoebe Litchfield.
After a long winter unable to travel to train with her NSW Breakers teammates due to lockdown, the Orange-based teenager has emerged from quarantine champing at the bit to get stuck into Weber WBBL|07.
"It's pretty hard to be honest," Litchfield told cricket.com.au of a preseason spent facing throwdowns from her dad in the synthetic pitch they built in their backyard several years ago.
"I haven't faced a ball in probably two or three months.
"It's just been me and my dad in lockdown at home, so it's been a difficult and different preseason.
"But I'll trust my batting instincts and we'll see how it goes ... imagine if I had no (coaching) skills in my family, I'd be batting at 10."
Litchfield and her Thunder teammates enjoyed their first proper hit-out on Monday, as a combined Thunder-Sixers outfit took on a combination of players from both Melbourne clubs.
Their international players arrived in Hobart on Monday afternoon, with Litchfield particularly looking forward to one new arrival – India superstar Smriti Mandhana.
Mandhana is one of three new overseas players on the reigning champions' list this season, alongside national teammate Deepti Sharma and England quick Issy Wong.
"She's one of my favourite left-handers to watch so I'm definitely excited to pick her brains and watch her train and bat and play," Litchfield said. "She's in good nick."
At just 18 years old, Litchfield is already playing her third season of Big Bash cricket.
While the prodigiously talented teenager is self-aware enough to know the importance of not placing too much pressure on herself, she is determined to seize this season and make it her own.
"Hopefully I can work my way up the order a bit depending on performances and form, I'm hoping to play a bigger role with the bat this season," she said.
"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself but I really think this is a big season and it's important to learn and it's my third season, so (I want to) really solidify my spot in the order."
With captain Rachael Haynes to miss at least the start of the season - and potentially the entire tournament - after returning to Sydney for the birth of her first child with partner Leah Poulton, that opportunity could quickly come.
For Litchfield, the decision to play in WBBL|07 was an easy one despite the fact it would not only mean two weeks of hard hotel quarantine but would also require her to complete her final Year 12 exams on the road.
"I was just praying (the exams wouldn't happen) when we were in Perth because a 9am exam in Sydney would be 6am in Perth," she said.
"But I've just got to do what I've got to do, I really wanted to play cricket so I couldn't give that up to stay home and study.
"I'm so excited to just train full-time with everyone and not have to go to school (anymore), it's awesome."
Squad: Rachael Haynes* (c), Smriti Mandhana (Ind), Deepti Sharma (Ind), Issy Wong (Eng), Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Jessica Davidson, Corinne Hall, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Kate Peterson, Olivia Porter, Lauren Smith, Tahlia Wilson
* CA contracted marquee player
In: Corinne Hall (Hurricanes), Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Issy Wong, Jessica Davidson
Out: Rachael Trenaman (Hurricanes), Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight, Shabnim Ismail, Saskia Horley
Possible best XI: Smriti Mandhana, Phoebe Litchfield, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Corinne Hall, Rachael Haynes (c), Deepti Sharma, Tahlia Wilson (wk), Hannah Darlington, Lauren Smith, Issy Wong, Sam Bates
Player to watch: Hannah Darlington
X-factor: Sammy-Jo Johnson
Last year's result: Champions
The inside word with Mel Jones: "They’ve got challenges, lockdowns in NSW and losing Heather Knight who was brilliant for them, Tammy Beaumont and Rachel Trenaman who were brilliant for them at the top of the order. They’ve got to come in with a clean sheet and make sure everything is humming right from ball one."
October 16 v Strikers, Blundstone Arena
October 23 v Sixers, UTAS Stadium
October 24 v Scorchers, UTAS Stadium
October 26 v Stars, UTAS Stadium
October 27 v Renegades, UTAS Stadium
October 30 v Stars, UTAS Stadium
October 31 v Hurricanes, UTAS Stadium
November 7 v Heat, Adelaide Oval
November 9 v Strikers, Karen Rolton Oval
November 11 v Scorchers, Karen Rolton Oval
November 14 v Sixers, Great Barrier Reef Arena Mackay
November 17 v Renegades, Great Barrier Reef Arena Mackay
November 19 v Heat, Great Barrier Reef Arena Mackay
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