SA Scorpions wicketkeeper batter Josie Dooley (Photo: SA Scorpions, Design by Madeline Irwin)

Having been narrowly defeated by the Tasmanian Tigers in the last WNCL final, the SA Scorpions are putting heartbreak behind them to go one better come season’s end.

Despite having been in the two last WNCL finals against the same opponent in Tasmania, the Scorpions have fought out both a comprehensive loss (WNCL 21/22) and a final over thriller (WNCL 22/23) to remain without a second club WNCL title.

The last final was a particularly dramatic one with rain delays aplenty, the Scorpions were primed for victory needing six runs off the final over for the win. Tasmania then took hold, inflicting five wickets keeping the Scorpions from scoring the winning runs, resulting in a one run defeat.

An important cog in their playing group is young wicketkeeper batter Josie Dooley, who after playing for the side the last few seasons, has decided to move south from Brisbane to call South Australia ‘home’.

Dooley spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about her move, ‘that’ final and the new additions to both the side and their staff this season.

“[The final] was heartbreaking, I can’t really put it any other way,” Dooley told The Inner Sanctum.

“We all definitely reflected on it [and] we got together as a group pretty soon after last year and it was pretty raw and emotional.

“We spoke about it but I think we’ve done a really good job this season of parking that to the side and using it as fuel to just work extremely hard and hopefully we can get ourselves in the position to get ourselves into a final again.”

When asked about where the improvement lies for the Scorpions, Dooley explained that it is in being more consistent but they are on the ‘right track’.

“Cricket’s a funny game, we won around four of our games in the last over [and] we just sort of found a way to win all season last year,” she said.

“To lose in a final was quite, as I said, heartbreaking but it just shows that cricket is a funny game, if it is your day then [it is].

“We definitely spoke about digging pretty deep and we had a lot of heart-to-hearts but at the end of the day we move on and hopefully we can take a lot of learnings from that game.”

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Dooley spoke about the playing group at the Scorpions which possesses both youth, and now experience within finals.

“We have a really young, exciting group coming up, we are all sort of mid-20s [and] hopefully sort of peaking at the right time,” Dooley continued.

“I guess we’ve all got a lot of hunger from last season [and] everyone’s worked so hard this off-season and just can’t wait to get out there. Hopefully we can get back to the final, which I think if we play our best, I think we are a very high chance of winning on our day.”

Joining the playing squad this year in the absence of Brooke Harris and Ellie Falconer, are pace bowler Courtney Neale, all-rounder Anesu Mushangwe and emerging talent Eleanor Larosa. Dooley describes the impact that they, alongside some key coaching figures will have on their title chances.

“We’ve got Courtney Neale, Anesu [Mushangwe] and Eleanor Larosa, our three new additions and obviously Nicole Bolton’s come in as [an] assistant coach and then Darius Wyatt from our underage program has moved up into an assistant analyst role,” she said.

“They’ve all been great additions [and] this is probably the hardest I’ve ever seen the group work this off-season, everyone is firing on all cylinders and everyone looks like they are in a really good place.”

She then spoke about how she’s settled into the Scorpions after a few seasons and how she’s felt about being brought into the program.

“I’ve loved it, I actually bought a place last season so I very much see myself as a local now,” Dooley explained.

“[I] absolutely love living in Adelaide and the group has been amazing, we are a really close group and have a lot of fun, [we have] outstanding staff and I cannot speak highly enough of the program.”

Having made an impact with the South Australian WBBL side, the Adelaide Strikers, head coach Luke Williams is one of the best coaches in the Women’s game right now. The Scorpions are hoping he is the coach that can replicate the Strikers’ title win this year.

After asking Dooley how the side has managed to recruit the likes of Jemma Barsby, Kate Peterson, Courtney Webb and even Dooley herself over the last few years, she points to him.

“Luke Williams, although he gets a lot of credit these days, but honestly I’ve found he’s one of the best coaches going around,” she said.

“He’s such a nice, genuine person and then an outstanding cricket coach so I think he’s definitely a driving force.

“Then I also think that we are a really young, exciting group and [that] people want to play with, you only get better with a strong squad so I just think it’s a really good program to be a part of.”

Having been teammates at the Queensland Fire prior to moving to the Scorpions, Dooley has had experience playing with the new captain Jemma Barsby.

Despite only taking the reins this year, Barsby has filled the leadership void when international stars Megan Schutt and Tahlia McGrath have been in Australian colours.

“Jem’s been great since she moved here, I moved with her,” Dooley said.

“Jem just leads from the front, a couple of those wins last year in those final overs were her just taking the game on and backing her own skill.

“I think her cricket knowledge is exceptional and she’s a great leader, I think she’s just a leader that leads from the front and everyone wants to get around.

“She’s the person you want in when the game’s on the line, I cannot speak highly enough of Jem.”

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