Retiring Farrell gunning for one final high
Legendary Aussie fast bowler wants to be on the winning side one more time as NSW take on WA in Sunday's WNCL decider
15 February 2020, 10:23 AM AEST
Rene Farrell admits she has been counting down the final training sessions, but there is unlikely to be a dry eye at North Sydney Oval – from her or her teammates – on Sunday night when the former Australia pace bowler finally hangs up her boots.
Farrell, 33, announced this week the Women's National Cricket League final at North Sydney Oval will be her last match at the elite level, ending a long and decorated domestic and international career.
The NSW Breakers will hope to send their much-loved teammate off on a fitting note with their 21st title but standing in their way is a Western Australian outfit eyeing a maiden championship.
One of only three women to have taken a Test hat-trick, Farrell walks away from the game a two-time World Cup champion, while she was also part of the Sydney Thunder side that took out the inaugural Rebel WBBL title.
Ending her playing days with one last WNCL title would be the icing on the cake for Farrell, who made as much of a mark on the teams she represented with her warm, upbeat personality and ability to bring people together, as she did with her skill with the ball.
"I've probably been counting down the training sessions and the warm-ups to be fair, but apart from that it's just another game at the moment, it'll probably sink in after the game, " Farrell said this week.
"There will probably be a few nerves before the game. It's just exciting to be part of another final.
"Hopefully we can get the win and then celebrate in style."
Breakers keeper-batter Tahlia Wilson reflects on what it means to play alongside @Fezzy88Rene ⬇️ 📰 #WNCL Final squad: https://t.co/51eDYP1SmH 🎥 Full interview: https://t.co/z9SWP9AXbD pic.twitter.com/OYL27GWrFk— NSW Breakers (@NSWBreakers) February 14, 2020
For the Thunder, Farrell played 66 games and took 79 wickets before a low-key retirement at the end of WBBL|05 – she only told the squad ahead of their final match of the season, believing the spotlight should be on former Australia and Thunder teammate Alex Blackwell, who also called time on her Big Bash career.
However, Blackwell was having none of it, dragging Farrell down the guard of honour created at Junction Oval by players from all four teams contesting that double-header on December 1, as the Thunder players joined by those from the Melbourne Renegades, Melbourne Stars and Brisbane Heat.
Now Sunday will see the end of her 13-year career in the WNCL, one that started and will finish with New South Wales, with time spent playing for Western Australia and the ACT in between.
In total, Farrell has played 81 WNCL matches and taken 130 wickets at 19.27, with 84 of those coming in NSW colours.
Business as usual for @Fezzy88Rene as she prepares for her final game in Breakers colours in the #WNCLFinal! Catch the full chat: https://t.co/jS4NANk2Zs pic.twitter.com/JZVv5h53DQ— NSW Breakers (@NSWBreakers) February 13, 2020
"There'll probably be a bit of relief that the body can finally relax and rest for a little bit, but there'll be some sadness there as well," Farrell predicted of her post-match feelings.
"I'm retiring from the game I love and I've made a lot of friendships I'll have for life … but I think the time is right for me."
Farrell played her last game in the green and gold against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui in early 2017.
Across a 10-year international career, she played 101 matches for Australia across all three formats, claiming 114 wickets.
That career included the infamous away Ashes win of 2015 and Australia's 2010 and 2014 T20 World Cup triumphs.
101 matches in green and gold and an Ashes hat-trick to boot. Enjoy retirement, @Fezzy88Rene and thanks for everything you've done for the game! 👏❤ pic.twitter.com/OcvvcW5jQP— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@AusWomenCricket) December 2, 2019
But without doubt, the highlight is her Ashes Test hat-trick, which paved the way to victory for Australia in Bankstown in 2011.
In the space of three deliveries Farrell removed English skipper Charlotte Edwards, Katherine Brunt and Danielle Hazell, turning the match on its head and ensuring Australia needed just 198 runs to reclaim the Ashes.
"Getting an Ashes hat-trick was pretty awesome," Farrell reflected. "But now I'm at the back-end of my career, you just appreciate every win, purely because you don't know when your last game will be."
Since her international retirement, Farrell has taken on more of a mentoring role in her domestic sides, helping nurture some of the up-and-coming talent coming through the NSW and Thunder pathway.
That young talent has been crucial in continuing NSW's remarkable record in the WNCL (in which they have made every final from 23 seasons and won 20 of those) this season, despite Alyssa Healy, Rachael Haynes and Ashleigh Gardner missing half the season through international duty, while Ellyse Perry moved to Victoria.
Presenting two of those young guns, Hannah Darlington and Saskia Horley, with their Breakers caps during the 2019-20 season has been a highlight for Farrell, who reflected on the huge strides the women's game as taken since she started her career.
"We used to train two nights a week 6-8 o'clock and that was it, you worked full-time as well," she said.
"Seeing the girls being able to train full-time and seeing their game come to where it is, it's a really exciting product at the moment and it's only going to continue going on in leaps and bounds."