Victorian bowler Molly Strano is about to embark on a new cricketing journey, moving to Tasmania to join the Hobart Hurricanes in the Women’s Big Bash League ahead of its seventh iteration.
After 10 years on the domestic circuit with Victoria and the Melbourne Renegades, Strano is setting sail towards a new journey, the biggest change in her cricketing career, and life by moving south to the Apple Isle.
Entering Victoria’s state team setup as a 16-year-old, Strano first represented Victoria in the Women’s National Cricket League during the 2011/12 season, playing three games for the side. Now 29 years old, she feels she has evolved a lot throughout this time and thus will be taking every bit of experience into the next stage of her career.
“It’s hard to sort of summarise a 10-year phase of your life in a short passage but I don’t know, I probably feel like just over those 10 years I’ve evolved a lot as a cricketer and probably more importantly, as a person as well,” Strano told The Inner Sanctum.
“The beautiful thing about cricket is that it’s shaped me into the person that I am today and I’ve been so lucky to be able to experience some pretty cool stuff whilst playing cricket; being able to travel the world, represent my country, see the evolution of the Big Bash being there from day dot and seeing how that’s grown in leaps and bounds over the last six editions.
“It’s been a pretty eventful 10 year period and probably what makes me most proud is to see the evolution of the women’s game over that decade period as well. It’s been pretty special to be involved in and it’s been a 10 year period that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.”
The decade-long journey has seen Strano be surrounded by a strong network of coaches who guided her towards working on her capabilities as a cricketer.
Starting out as an opening batter early in her career, Strano eventually settled on becoming a full-time off-spinner, meaning she’s had to work harder on learning and perfecting that part of her game.
“I came in [to the Victorian team] originally as an opening bat. It took me a long time to learn my craft so I guess I’m a bit of a late developer in the bowling department just based on how late I picked up bowling off-spin,” she said.
“I’ve just been incredibly lucky… to be surrounded by some pretty incredible role models… and some pretty wonderful coaches too who have imparted a hell of a lot of knowledge onto me and mentored me along the journey as well.
“Coaches of the likes of Cathryn Fitzpatrick… Kristen Beams, Kelly Applebee, I played with Meg [Lanning] pretty much my whole career as well who’s been a really good sounding board for me [too].”
Wanting to work her way into the national setup, that opportunity came in 2017 when Strano made her Australian debut in a T20 International against New Zealand at the MCG.
Sensing that her way into the team might have to be at the expense of her early aspirations, Strano says Fitzpatrick was the coach who originally flagged the switch to focus on her bowling more so to help aid her chances of making the Victorian side.
“I had my heart set to sort of always be an opening batter and I had aspirations to open the batting for Victoria,” Strano mentioned.
“At the time I was coming through the system, the Victorian team was blessed with so many incredible batters and a number of Australian representatives who were batters so it was always going to be hard to break into that Victorian team as a youngster, as a top-order bat.
“Fitzy came up to me, I think it was in an end-of-season review, she said ‘if you want to break your way into the Victorian team, I think it’s through your spin bowling and I think you should start taking that a little bit more seriously cause I think that’s a real avenue for you to be able to break into this team’.
“Ever since that chat, I’ve sort of changed my priorities around a little bit and started to invest a little bit more, a bit more time and energy into my bowling which has sort of paid dividends.
“It hasn’t been easy, I used to also bowl medium pace when I was a youngster so it was a full 360 in regards to my evolution as a bowler. Now it’s a craft I really love and enjoy doing and I absolutely love bowling.
“My cricketing journey’s been a bit of a funny one in regards to the changing of the guard in regards to my actual status and what I describe myself as, evolved as an opening bat to a batter that bowls a bit to probably more so now, more of a one-faceted player just being a spin bowler but it’s been a fun journey nonetheless.”
More Cricket News
The WBBL’s leading wicket-taker with 104 wickets in 85 matches, Strano has conceded it was a difficult decision to move states and teams, the changing sense of normality and familiarity a scary but exciting feeling at the same time.
“It was easily the hardest decision I’ve had to make from a cricketing perspective ever. I’ve never actually moved clubs or teams before,” she remarked.
“All I’ve known is Melbourne my whole life and it’s my little comfort bubble… it’s also been a huge personal development for me as well to have to uproot my life and start somewhere else as well which has been really cool.”
“I was just really ready for a bit of a lifestyle change and to try something new so [that] was a massive factor in the lure to cross to the purple team and I’m really excited for this instalment of the WBBL.”
The Hobart Hurricanes’ head coach Sallian Beams, who’s also the head coach of the Tasmanian Tigers had reached out to Strano to lure her across the Bass Strait with a proposition she couldn’t turn down. Strano was excited by the opportunity to work alongside assistant coach Dan Marsh as well.
“[Sallian] provided me with a really exciting opportunity to sort of move down to Tassie and play a different role in that team that I probably would’ve played in the Victorian team which was to sort of lead the spin attack which was something that really excited me,” Strano revealed.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with Marshy both with my bowling and my batting and that was another sort of opportunity that made the move pretty enticing as well, to be able to play potentially a bit of a more prominent role with the bat as well which I was excited about.
Speaking about the prospect of finding her way into a new team and understanding the club’s position and goals for her, and the season overall, Strano says the transition will be challenging at times but the spinner says she’s excited to mix with the team.
“I probably will take sort of a little bit of a backstep early on and try to find my feet a little bit but I think the transition will be made a little bit easier considering I’ve had the whole winter with the Tassie Tigers girls,” she said.
“Hopefully the transition won’t be super daunting, putting on the purple. It’s going to be an interesting Big Bash, challenging on multiple fronts but an experience I’m really excited for and I can’t wait for the show to get on the road.”
The Hurricanes’ first game of the season comes against Strano’s former side, the Renegades, a matchup that she was anticipating and expecting, but not one that would open her account in purple. The off-spinner expects there to be many emotions during the game, scheduled for tomorrow.
“The first game’s gonna be really tough. It’s going to have some challenges this Big Bash, it’s going to be incredibly tough coming up against the Renegades I already know,” she says.
“Originally and naturally you’re gonna be nervous, first outing in new colours and then the other layer of coming up against your old team’s always gonna prove to be difficult as well.
“I think I always will have that emotional connection with the Renegades, they gave me my first chance and instilled a huge amount of faith in me by providing me with some wonderful opportunities with the ball.
“That franchise played a huge role in helping me forge my way into the Aussie squad and get selected for some T20 matches for my country so [I’m] hugely indebted to the Renegades.
“We’ll be playing at Blundstone Arena which is our home track for the Hurricanes and hopefully we’ll have a bit of a crowd in with some of our home fans as well so I’m also excited for it as well, as well as being someone [who’s] a little bit nervous.”
Subscribe to our newsletter!