A shift in gears has Rachael Haynes and Sydney Thunder well-poised for an assault on the Rebel WBBL finals at the midway point of the season.
Last summer Haynes knew she was hitting the ball well but it, frustratingly, wasn’t translating to big scores on the pitch.
This year it’s a different story for the Thunder opener, who has scored 299 runs at 42.71 in eight WBBL|03 matches to date, including four half-centuries.
And while her team missed the finals in WBBL|02, they’re also in a strong position so far this summer, sitting atop the ladder with six wins from eight matches
Haynes’ performances have come off the back of an extraordinary year for the 31-year-old, who was recalled to the Australian team in February and who stepped in as acting national captain during the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes in place of an injured Meg Lanning.
A focus on pacing her innings and better adapting at the end of the power play has been the key, Haynes explained to cricket.com.au.
“I’ve been hitting the ball well for most of the season, it’s nice to get on a bit of a roll,” Haynes said.
“Last year I was getting out a lot in the sixth and seventh over and that was a focus coming into this year, what my strategy would be once the field got set out after the power play and adjusting my game to go through the gears a little bit better.
“I think I’ve done that a lot better this year and I’m reaping the rewards at the moment.”
Haynes started the season with 55 against Melbourne Renegades, followed by knocks of 17, 54, 78no, 64 and 22.
She then had an unusually quiet weekend against the Scorchers, but will be looking to go big again in the Sydney Smash at the SCG on Saturday.
“I’m in a good place at the moment,” she said. “When you’re playing T20 cricket you’ve got no choice but to back yourself or you find yourself back on the bench pretty quickly.
“I’m feeling good, I’m really confident about my plans and how I’m approaching each innings.”
Haynes is also enjoying batting with her new opening partner, New Zealand import Rachel Priest.
“The first couple of games we were getting used to each other and how we went about it, but it’s going well and we compliment each other.
“We’re quite different in the way we play but we’ve found a way to make it work and it’s going really well at the moment.”
Haynes’ form also bodes well for Australia, who embark on a limited-overs tour of India in March.
The Sydneysider isn’t looking that far forward just yet, but there’s no doubt the Australian selectors will have been pleased to see Haynes in fine WBBL form.
“If you get too far ahead of yourself, cricket has a really nice way of coming back to bite you so I’m just trying to focus on this tournament at the moment, and making sure I perform for the Thunder,” Haynes said.
“If I’m doing that I’m sure other things will take care of themselves.”
And while she is concentrating on the present, Haynes knows runs now will put her in a strong position not only to play in the three-match ODI series and T20I tri-series on the subcontinent, but to be a key part of Australia’s plans for the World T20 in the Caribbean next November.
“I’m probably getting towards the back end of my career now, so any opportunity I get I want to make the most of it,” she said.
“I’m not getting too far ahead of myself because I want to make sure every time I go out to play I’m giving myself the best chance to perform.
“Selection and higher honours are always out of your control as a player, so there’s no point focusing energy on that … But I’d definitely love to keep playing for Australia and to play in the World Cups coming up.”