Annabel Sutherland could be forgiven for being one of the only people not wanting the year 2020 to end.
A year that has seen her make her international debut in both forms of limited overs cricket, being a part of a history making Twenty20 World Cup Campaign and getting the chance the bowl a couple of deliveries to one of the greatest batters to ever swing the willow, the teenager is continuing to make waves in the Australian women’s cricket national setup.
In a whirlwind 12-month period, Sutherland is taking everything in her stride in her third season in Green, as she and her Melbourne Stars got on the board after a rain affected opening two games of this year’s Rebel Women’s Big Bash League.
Speaking to The Inner Sanctum this week, Sutherland spoke of the changes within the squad compared with last year and the additional leadership both on and off the field added in the Stars line-up this year and early days navigating hub life and trying to avoid Megan Schutt running around with a nerf gun being chief prankster.
She commented on Australian skipper Meg Lanning’s return to the Stars as a move that will add a quality layer of class and leadership to the group.
“Meg provides a wealth of experience and gives us a little bit more in terms of the leadership role that we were really missing last year,” she said.
“Along with that with Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt coming in who have also played alot of cricket against alot of the girls in the competition, so with those girls coming in puts us in a really nice position.
“We’re all pretty excited about how this season is going to look and were all pretty confident about the Stars and where we are at.
The addition of new coach Trent Woodhill, who in the words of Sutherland, has “coached just about every team under the sun” adds another layer of dynamism.
Reflecting on what the last 12 months has offered, Sutherland has used the time off to really take everything in and enjoy the moments in the early stages of her career.
“I certainly wouldn’t have pictured the last 12 months to look like it has,” she said.
“It’s been nice looking back and having achieved a few things that I’ve dreamed of doing growing up as a kid, like debuting and being around the national setup more.
“I was even using the time when we were locked down in Melbourne, to look back on and reflect on those sorts of things.
“That just gives me more motivation to keep working on my game and improving, especially after having a taste of what it takes to be consistent at the international level.”
Training in Victoria in between lockdowns with the likes of Meg Lanning, Elyse Perry, Sophie Molineux and Georgia Wareham provides Sutherland with the best possible opportunity to train with the best and continue developing her game.
“The way those girls train, how smart they train as well, you can see how hungry they all for success,” she said when asked about training with the senior girls in the Australian squad.
“We’re all a competitive bunch of girls and to have such a talented group to compare myself with and compete with in the nets not only helps me but all of us elevate our game.
“I’m pretty lucky that I have some of the best around me” she added.
She certainly has the backing of her coaches and teammates, as she was asked to step into the captain’s position at number 3 in the recent ODI series against New Zealand.
It would be daunting for any young player, but it was met with a big tick of approval from coach Matthew Mott and stand-in skipper Rachael Haynes on the day, following a composed and classy performance up the order.
Another one of her highlights was getting the chance earlier in the year to bowl a couple of balls to Sachin Tendulkar, something she will remember for the rest of her life.
While it might get caught up in the wave of the T20 World Cup and then being up on stage with Katy Perry and her teammates, the chance to bowl to one of the best in the world stands out to Sutherland more than anything.
“That was incredibly special,” she said.
“When ‘Pez’ (Ellyse Perry) threw me the ball, to have an opportunity like that, you don’t think you’re ever going to be able to do something like that.
“I was standing at mid-off and she just chucked me the ball and was like ‘you have a go’.
“It’s definitely something I’ll look back on and remember fondly as something that not many people will get to do now.
After two abandoned fixtures due to weather, the Stars back up from their first win over the Sydney Sixers and the look for another against the Hobart Hurricanes.