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Opinion

Annabel Sutherland confident of Melbourne Stars finals berth

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13th November, 2020
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The last year has been big for Annabel Sutherland.

12 months ago, Sutherland was competing in the WBBL for the Melbourne Stars while juggling her Year 12 exams at the same time.

In January 2020, Sutherland was named in the Australian Women’s Cricket team squad for the upcoming Women’s Tri-Nation Series and the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup. Sutherland made her international T20 debut for Australia against England on February 1 and just over a month later on International Women’s Day, Sutherland found herself on stage dancing with Katy Perry.

“I can safely say it was the best day of my life,” said Sutherland.

“To be a part of that squad for that month, I never thought that would happen towards the end of last year.

“Everything was thrown at us to prevent us getting to that stage on the MCG, to look back and know that we have achieved what we have achieved is something I am really proud of.

But from the stage with Katy Perry, to a global pandemic and the longest offseason ever, Sutherland now finds herself in a hub for WBBL06.

Most of the WBBL players seem to be enjoying the hub far more than they thought they would. For Sutherland, one distinct advantage is that this time she isn’t juggling her studies.

“The workload for Year 12 is enough in its own right,” said Sutherland.

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“To have a condensed WBBL season alongside exams too would be tough. I’m certainly not envious of the women doing Year 12 exams right now.

“We have Tess Flintoff at the moment trying to do her exams. She had English this week and I’m not envious at all.”

The Melbourne Stars are the only WBBL team to have not featured in the WBBL finals. But with six games to go in the regular season, this might be the year.

The Stars currently sit on top of the ladder, which is a welcome change for Sutherland who has been part of the Stars set-up since WBBL03.

“It would be massive for the franchise to make the finals for the first time,” said Sutherland.

“There have been a couple of really disappointing season, but it feels like the team has really turned a corner.

For Sutherland, a big part of the success so far has been the new additions to the team, but also just how well the team is getting along in the hub.

“We have clicked really well as a team,” said Sutherland.

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“We have a couple of new faces around, like our coach Trent, Meg Lanning has returned and the poms have joined us. There have been some great additions and some senior heads which have provided strong leadership, alongside Elyse Villani.

“They work well together, which is something I think the group really needed.”

The Stars were one of the clubs whose roster changed significantly between WBBL05 and WBBL06. Several key players departed, including Lizelle Lee and Kristen Beams, and there were some exciting additions to the squad this year including Lanning, Katherine Brunt and Natalie Sciver.

Given Sutherland’s inclusion in the Australian squad, she has had plenty of time to play alongside and get to know Lanning. Lanning has been in exceptional form for the Stars so far.

She is the leading run-scorer for the Stars with 248 with an average of 62 and a high score of 69. She has also scored the third-most runs in the competition so far behind Beth Mooney from the Perth Scorchers and Heather Knight from the Sydney Thunder.

Annabel Sutherland of the Stars.

Annabel Sutherland of the Stars bats. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“She’s a superstar,” said Sutherland.

“You wouldn’t really want anyone else as your captain. She knows how to get the job done whether the team is chasing or has to bat first.

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“She is good to have at the top order with Junior and I love watching both of them go about their business.

When watching Lanning, Sutherland takes the opportunity to learn from how she bats and how she builds her innings, but sometimes reverts back to a cricket fan.

“Some of her striking at North Sydney the other day against the Brisbane Heat was unbelievable,” said Sutherland.

“It was a pretty quick 50 and so it was great to sit back and enjoy.

“That’s something I’m really enjoying this year, being able to feel comfortable watching the team bat. Meg and Junior are both in great form and then Mignon comes in next. It’s great to just sit back and watch.

Now, Sutherland and the Stars focus turns to the Sydney Thunder who sit just behind the Stars on the WBBL ladder.

“We have a busy few days coming up with a lot of matches,” said Sutherland.

“I think we have four in five days, so we are taking it one game at a time and planning to carry that momentum through.

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The Melbourne Stars’ next game is against the Sydney Thunder at 7:05 pm AEDT at the Sydney Showgrounds.