Sydney Thunder 2015/16 WBBL champion & Western Sydney University Student
Claire has recently tasted success with the Sydney Thunder taking out the 2015/16 WBBL title, she also is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Health Science (Sport & Exercise Science). She recently sat down with us to share her experiences in managing training, playing and studying.
1. What career would you like to pursue post your studies?
Ideally I would like to start my own clinic as a Podiatrist while incorporating other practitioners from other specialties to create a holistic health clinic.
2. How long have you been playing cricket and what have been your achievements to date?
I have been playing cricket for approximately 17 years, 14 at a representative level. I have been involved with 6 titles for underage NSW and 2nd XI NSW (out of 6). I have also been involved in 5 WNCL titles (of NSW Breakers 10 title winning streak) one of which was 'The Double' when we won the WT20 title as well. I represented the Australian Shooting Stars (U21s) and most recently won the inaugural WBBL01 for the Sydney Thunder. I have also won 3 World Cups for Indoor Cricket Australia (2 underage and 1 open age).
3. Tell us more about your experience playing with the Sydney Thunder?
I have been playing cricket for approximately 17 years, 14 at a representative level. I have been involved with 6 titles for underage NSW and 2nd XI NSW (out of 6). I have also been involved in 5 WNCL titles (of NSW Breakers 10 title winning streak) one of which was 'The Double' wheIt was an incredible experience. We were fortunate enough to play in 4 televised matches (3 of which were on Channel 10 and 1 on Channel One). The popularity of women's cricket exploded as we were receiving viewing numbers 3 times the A-league would receive. In our semi final against the Perth Scorchers we had 900,000 viewers from several countries including India and South Africa. It also gave players from other countries the opportunity to play in our teams. This meant the level of cricket was drastically improved. We were fortunate enough to have the 2015/16 World T20 Player of the Year in Stafanie Taylor in our team. She had a wonderful character and taught us about her Jamaican culture wherever possible. I had the great honour of being out on the field when the winning runs were scored and amazingly the men Sydney Thunder team won straight after us. The celebrations were incredible and the historic moment will be hard to repeat again I'm sure.
4. What was it like to take out the WBBL title for 2015/16 season?
Taking the WBBL01 title was absolutely amazing. At the start of the tournament we were tipped to come 7th (second last) and our first match against the Sydney Sixers we were $3.40 to win. We then became the first Sydney Thunder team to win a Sydney Derby. Our team were some of the hardest working I'm sure and to be able to raise that trophy was one of the best feelings I have experienced. One I'm certain I won't forget.
5. How do you manage training, playing and studying commitments?
I have been playing cricket for approximately 17 years, 14 at a representative level. I have been involved with 6 titles for underage NSW andManaging the commitments is quite difficult. Women cricketers need to work as well. So to juggle training, playing, study and work is very challenging. Fortunately my employers are very flexible and encouraging of my pursuits. I believe it is possible due to the support my family and my partner give me. They always help me work around everything so I can get to training and perform at my best.
6. How important do you think it is to study whilst still pursing your cricket career?
I believe Studying whilst playing or having some qualifications is so imperative. Cricket is not a certain thing, it can take a form slump, or an injury that can end your career very quickly. So its important to have something to lean on. Also, opportunities for women to have jobs in cricket after they retire aren't as readily available as it is for the men. We also have a shorter cricketing career as most players retire around 30 due to the impact the game leaves on our body and some ladies intent to have a family. Our coaches encourage us to be great people before we are great cricketers.
7. How was the University's Elite Athlete program assisted you?
The Spring Semester clashes severely with the cricket so there can be occasions where I am unable to complete assessments by the due date, and it also quite often conflicts with Exams. They help me defer or ask for extensions with letters of support. It takes a lot of stress off so I can focus properly.
8. Who have you looked up to in your career?
I have always looked up to Adam Gilchrist in cricket terms. He paved the way for a new generation of wicket keepers and exceeded his expectations as a player. He made the game more exciting and a dream of mine has always been to make women's cricket more exciting to watch. In the world outside of cricket a friend of mine, Scott Evenett, is a former Commando (Army) and current personal trainer and mentor for many people now. His work ethic in his business and ambition to help people is something I aspire to every day. Not to mention the sacrifice he made for his country by serving for multiple tours. He is a true inspiration.
9. What do you think the future for women's cricket in Australia and internationally looks like?
Women's cricket is improving by leaps and bounds. The WBBL has already paved the way for changes in the English Women's Superleague. They have altered their tournament to mimic parts of the WBBL and create further interest in the sport in their country. Also, recently the Indian Women's cricket team were awarded contracts. Not only did it include a retainer, but it meant they had finally become professional. The WBBL opened up opportunities for the South African women and West Indian women to play in Australia. Before the WBBL some English and New Zealand players already competed in the State competitions (WNCL and WT20). The South African women in particular mentioned they had learnt and improved quite dramatically, and proved that in a tough series against England. The WBBL has been a major trail blazer for women's cricket and has already seen an increase in retainers for the coming season. This means we can become more professional and spend less time working to focus on cricket. The future of women's cricket is looking incredibly bright and I am so fortunate and grateful that I am able to be a part of it.