Sophie's choice: Ashes gain blunts Molineux's pain
Renegades allrounder reflects on last season's heart-breaking semi-final loss, her role in the Ashes and her recovery from injury
18 October 2019, 02:57 PM AEST
Renegades allrounder Sophie Molineux says she has no regrets about the way the last three months have played out, despite being sidelined for Australia’s last two international engagements.
After undergoing a shoulder reconstruction in March, Molineux forced her way back into the national side for the one-off Ashes Test in July, starring on debut in the Baggy Green as she captured four wickets and scored a second-innings 41 in a rain-affected draw.
She then featured in the first matches of the T20I leg of the multi-format Ashes, before sitting out the final game of what was a dominant series win for the tourists.
The fact it was her non-dominant right shoulder she injured during a training mishap late last summer made it possible for Molineux, a left-arm spinner, to make such a hasty return.
But the risks involved with fielding – namely, with diving to her right – and the need to continue strengthening the joint ahead of a summer that will culminate in the T20 World Cup meant Molineux found herself again consigned to the recovery ward at Junction Oval while her Australian teammates continued their winning ways in Antigua and Barbados throughout September.
"(The time out) was about doing a bit of further recovery," Molineux told cricket.com.au.
"Playing the Ashes in England was the goal after surgery and we knew it’d be pretty tight. And it was tight, it was three-and-a-half, four months post shoulder reconstruction.
"We got to the Ashes and it was amazing and I was able to be part of the Ashes-winning team, but I got back home and realised there’s still a bit of work to do on my shoulder.
"I have absolutely no regrets about going and doing what I did in England … unfortunately I have missed a couple of series but that’s cricket, that’s part of sport."
Molineux briefly rejoined her teammates for a training session in Brisbane during the home ODIs against Sri Lanka in October and a long-awaited return to playing awaits on Saturday when the Renegades play Adelaide Strikers at Karen Rolton Oval.
"(The shoulder) is ready to go, it’s been a bit up and down over the last little bit but I think we should be ready to go," she said.
"It’s never nice missing games, but I suppose it’s all a part of it and you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
"I’m not a very good watcher but watching that team makes it pretty easy because they’re all good mates of mine and to watch them go out and be so dominant was cool.
"But it does make me want to be a part of it again."
Molineux is highly rated by the Australian brains trust and, if fit, should be a lock for the T20 World Cup squad early next year.
Australian selection, however, is not front of mind for Molineux, as she looks to rectify what was a heartbreaking end to season WBBL|04 for the Renegades.
Playing their first Big Bash semi-final, Molineux was on strike with her side needing three runs from the final ball to stun minor premiers Sydney Sixers.
Her shot appeared destined for the boundary, only to be reeled in centimetres from the rope thanks to a stunning dive from Erin Burns.
Burns flicked the ball up to Sarah Aley whose rocket arm found the gloves of Alyssa Healy, who then pulled off a direct hit that saw Molineux run out and forced the final into a Super Over, won by the Sixers.
"I still don’t know how I hit it there, it’s all a bit of a blur," Molineux said of that thrilling final ball.
"I do remember not having a plan, so that’s one thing I’ve worked on over the off-season, to work on having a plan and settling down in those situations a bit more.
"I ball-watched a little bit and Erin Burns, one of the finest athletes going around at the moment, pulled it off and it just a perfect piece of play from the Sixers."
That losing semi-final had followed an equally thrilling decider between the Thunder and the Heat earlier the same day, results that ensured the following week’s decider at Drummoyne Oval was a sellout.
Time has brought perspective for Molineux, but has also lit the fire in her belly for WBBL|05.
"Our hearts were broken for a little bit there," she said of missing out on the tournament final.
"But when the dust settled … that’s when I realised how big that day was for female cricket. For a while I didn’t want to think about it … but you can’t really do that because it was such a special day.
"We’ve got some hungry cricketers.
"To get so close last year - we had a glimpse of a Big Bash final there - and to have that taken away, there’s definitely a bit of a fire in the belly and we’re all pretty keen to go one or two (steps) extra."
The Big Bash season will also see Molineux find herself competing against her current roommate, Sydney Sixers captain Ellyse Perry.
Molineux has been occupying the spare room of Perry and husband Matt Toomua’s Melbourne residence this year, although she’s been home alone of late with Perry away on Australian and now Sixers duties, and Wallaby Toomua in Japan at the World Cup.
"They’ve not been home so I’m trying to keep it afloat at the moment … the dynamic there is great because I’m home alone and throwing parties every second night," Molineux joked.
The Renegades will play the Strikers on Saturday and Sunday this week, with both matches beginning at 2pm local time (2.30pm AEDT).