Josie Dooley doesn’t have to look far for the blueprint on how to create opportunities for herself in top-level cricket.
The 18-year-old Queensland wicketkeeper-batter is one of the country’s brightest young prospects, having made a big impression in her maiden overseas tour with the Australia Under-19 team in April.
She made her state debut for Queensland last summer and is part of Cricket Australia’s women’s National Performance Squad, an elite group of 13 players identified as the next generation.
But opportunities can be tough to come by as a ‘keeper and with Australia player Beth Mooney established as the Fire’s premier glovewoman, Dooley knows versatility is key.
It’s an obstacle Mooney herself has overcome with the Australian team - recognising that with Alyssa Healy standing behind the stumps at international level, her best chance of forcing her way into the team was as a specialist batter.
She’s achieved that with aplomb over the last 18 months, cementing her spot in the Southern Stars ODI and T20 teams and being named the ICC’s T20I player of the year in 2017.
Now Dooley, a top-order batter who describes her style as "aggressive", hopes to blaze the same path into the Queensland team – and eventually, hopefully, the Australia XI.
"Mooney’s an amazing batter and keeper, someone I definitely look up to and she helps me out a lot," Dooley told cricket.com.au.
"In the long run, (playing anywhere) where there’s someone already in there like with Mooney or Healy, hopefully I can make it in with my batting.
"And hopefully this season I’ll play a few more WNCL games, purely batting."
Dooley hadn’t expected to make her state debut last summer, but was given a chance in the final round of matches against Western Australia, scoring 29.
It was a confidence boost ahead of the Under-19 tour of South Africa, where Dooley wore the gloves and was a constant at the top of the order.
The high points of her trip were back-to-back speedy half-centuries, with a 43-ball 56 in a one-dayer against South Africa followed by a 37-ball 54 in a T20 against England.
Competitive and confident, the willingness of Dooley to back herself and take a risk was what most impressed CA high performance coach Leah Poulton during that tour.
"She was really impressive at the top of the order for us," Poulton said. "One of our values is being fearless and if anyone embodied that most, it was Josie.
"When she comes out to bat she’s not afraid to take the attack on, she will sweep and lap from ball one.
"I’m looking forward to seeing her make an impact for Queensland and hopefully for the Heat this summer."
While she didn’t exactly set out to become a wicketkeeper, Dooley says it was the upshot of growing up in a household with three cricket-mad brothers.
"They all bowled so I just had to keep and I’ve done it since then!"
And when she’s not on the cricket field, the Brisbane local can often be found on the coast, surfboard in hand.
"If I was good enough, I think I’d be a pro surfer… but I’m not," she laughed. "It’s definitely one of my main passions, whenever I have time."
Rookie-listed with the Heat last summer, Dooley’s eager to earn a full contract this time around – if not with the Heat, then with another club looking for a top-order batter and ‘keeper.
Before that, though, she’s determined to put her best foot forward with the NPS program – which involves a total of eight intensive weeks of training at Brisbane’s Bupa National Cricket Centre – and during pre-season training with the Fire.
One added bonus of being with the NPS she’s already discovered is the chance to train alongside Australian contracted players including Meg Lanning, Rachael Haynes and Megan Schutt.
"It’s pretty cool to be training with them in the first place," she said. "And with the other girls in the NPS, a few of them have already played international cricket too so just seeing how they go about their training is pretty cool.
"Leah’s a very good coach so it’s good having her around."
Dooley’s also been working with a Queensland wicketkeeping icon, former Australia captain Jodie Fields.
"It’s been pretty awesome. She’s from Queensland so I did a bit with her when I was younger too," she said.
"It’s cool to see how hard she still works. She works you hard as well, so it’s very cool having her as a keeping coach."
Commonwealth Bank T20I series v NZ
September 29: First T20I, North Sydney Oval, Sydney
October 1: Second T20I, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
October 5: Third T20I, Manuka Oval, Canberra
Commonwealth Bank ODI series v NZ
February 22: First ODI, WACA Ground, Perth
February 24: Second ODI, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
March 3: Third ODI, Junction Oval, Melbourne