By Charlie Talbot-Smith
ANYA Shrubsole had to watch on from the other side of the world after missing out on last year’s inaugural Women’s Big Bash.
But the 25-year-old has made up for that disappointment and then some with the Perth Scorchers this year as they prepare for tomorrow’s final against the Sydney Sixers.
Shrubsole – England Women’s Cricketer of the Year in 2016 – has formed an impressive new-ball pairing with compatriot Katherine Brunt for the Scorchers.
The duo have combined for 17 wickets in the competition and, even more impressively, are two of the most economical bowlers.
Shrubsole (5.35) and Brunt (5.36) will therefore return to England full of confidence for a busy six months that culminates in a World Cup on home soil.
“It’s been amazing, and I am so pleased that I was part of it,” said the Somerset seamer.
“I didn’t play this last year and I really wanted to get out here and get involved this time around so I am very grateful to Perth for giving me that opportunity.
“Out here in Australia all the pitches are so good. And as a fast bowler that means you need to learn how to bowl on good pitches, still get wickets and keep the runs down.
“But as much as anything, you learn the most from being in a new team, a new environment.
“There is a bit of pressure on overseas players to perform in every game, so it has been a great experience for me – learning not to let that affect me and stick to doing my job.
“It’s been amazing taking the new ball alongside Katherine. We are building a really good partnership both on and off the field.
“It was good to have someone familiar when I first arrived – that has been really enjoyable for me and obviously she has performed really well.”
The Scorchers v the Sixers is the match-up for both the women’s and the men’s Big Bash finals – and the Perth franchise would love to upset the odds.
“It’s been a brilliant campaign and we are absolutely delighted to have reached the final,” added Shrubsole.
“We put together a really good performance in the semi-finals and we will take a lot of confidence into the final. If we play our best, we can win it.
“They beat us twice in the group stages but we take some solace from the fact that those were probably our two worst performances and we still ran them close.
“They are a very strong team – they showed that in the semis – and will be the favourites but we know we have match-winners in this side. Winning the Big Bash would give us a lot of confidence to take into an important year. And with the blokes also in the final, it would be great to complete the double.”
The year 2016 was one of change for England’s women as Mark Robinson took charge and stalwarts like Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway moved on from the playing staff.
But Shrubsole has seen the green shoots of a new England team taking shape after downing Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka last year.
“Every England girl who has been out at the Big Bash here has performed really well,” she added.
“As a team we have shown over the last six months that we have made some really big strides and we have carried that on here.
“This is a big six months for us leading up to the World Cup. It’s going to be a huge year with a home World Cup – it does not get a lot better than that.
“It has been a challenging year, a lot has happened to the squad but we are moving forward now as a team.”
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, January 27 2017
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