She Inspires: Annabel Sutherland
Australian Women’s Cricket player Annabel Sutherland sat down with She-Society before the ICC world cup to discuss her experiences as a woman in sport and her cricketing journey that recently saw her represent Australia in the Women’s Ashes.
Annabel began her professional Cricket career in the WBBL for the Melbourne Renegades at only 15 years of age! Being both a professional athlete and managing High School highlighted her tremendous work ethic and ability to compete in the highest level of Australian Women’s Cricket.
This interview explores how Annabel got into Cricket, the recent success and debut performance in the Ashes, her sporting experiences as a girl in a male dominated sport and her current headspace heading into the ICC world cup.
Q. Cricket seems to be integrated into your family, your Brother plays BBL and previously your Dad has worked as CEO of Cricket Australia. When Growing up was Cricket your passion and something you always wanted to pursue?
A. It’s certainly ingrained, I’ve got two brothers so we spent a lot of time in the backyard growing up, and my older brother was pretty keen on cricket early on and Dad certainly loves the game growing up playing it and coaching it as well. We certainly spent a lot of time in the backyard, and I guess that’s where my passion for it started. We played a lot of sport growing up, and it was consistent because we were always outside enjoying our sport.
Q. In your sporting journey, did you have any cricket/sporting Idols that you looked up to and why?
A. I watched a lot of sport growing up, I’m a pretty keen Geelong supporter. Watched a lot of footy and obviously the cricket was on during the summer as well. I loved watching Shane Watson play, he was an allrounder which is something I’m doing. He’s one I really enjoyed watching, and I guess any of the stars on TV playing I was just glued to the TV watching.
Q. You had amazing success in the recent ashes series, triggering an English batting collapse in the 4th innings, bowling 3/69. What was your process and preparation leading up to this series?
A. The work put in during the pre-season, I guess I can put down to a lot of my bowling performances. From that and the work in the gym to get stronger and being more stable at the crease as well. That’s the main thing that’s stuck out in my bowling this year, just being a little bit more consistent, allowing me to be in the game for long periods particularly during that test match in the 4th day in the last innings, were I was still able to run in as hard as I could and do a job for the team.
Q. Competing in the Ashes is a big deal for any Australian Cricketer, what does this iconic series mean to you?
A. It’s really special, as I said before growing up watching a lot of cricket. The Ashes was one series that was always talked about and hyped up. Certainly looked forward to watching those battles on TV, with the Women and the Mens. To be a part of that group in the recent series and to go as well as we did was really special. That test match we played in was so great for the women’s game, and just showcasing how we can stand up on the biggest stages and put forward a product which is pretty entertaining to watch
Q. You’re one of the youngest players in the team, how has it been transitioning into this team and fitting into this culture?
A. I think this group’s pretty special. In that anyone that comes in the environment can be themselves. It was no different for me, I think the senior players play a really good role in that, and the coaches as well, just making sure that anyone who comes in can be themselves and can back their game and feel confident in executing what they can do. Feeling comfortable to play a role no matter what that is in the team.
Q. When studying in year 11 & 12 you were playing in the WBBL as well. After finishing school you had an interest in a Science Degree, outside of Cricket, do any jobs/industries interest you, and is there anything you’re thinking of pursuing?
A. I’m still doing that science degree, so Bachelor of Science at Melbourne Uni part time. Just got that in the background at the moment, which is nice to have something else to think about particularly when i’m away in the Cricket bubble. It’s nice to have an outlet, to think about something else, I think science is one thing that’s taken my interest since High School. To continue that even after school has been really cool.
Q. As a young Girl you played cricket and footy, oftentimes as the only girl in the team or playing with boys? Since you have grown up playing sports as a woman, how have pathways and programs improved for young women pursuing sport?
A. I think particularly the last five years it’s gone to another level, you see how each year the WBBL continues to improve and attract more young kids to the game. Likewise with the AFLW as well, year on year it keeps improving as more girls get fed through that junior pathway.
Particularly in cricket, I was pretty lucky growing up to have that pathway there, where a lot of my teammates who have been around for a little bit longer probably didn’t have that pathway when they came through. Really grateful for that opportunity to play through the Victorian system. I know a lot of the girls coming through now are super lucky to have the pathway in place that sets you up to do as well as you want to do all the way through the Victorian and Aussie system.
Q. The overall prize money for the Women’s Cricket World Cup has increased by 75%, with eight teams taking home a share of 3.5 Million. There is still a $6.5 million dollar gap between Men and Women’s ICC world cup prize pool. While this is a step in the right direction, do you think more should be done for the lower income for Female Athletes?
A. Yeah, I think there’s certainly work to be done. There’s always improvements to be made to continue to move towards equality in sport for Females, particularly in Cricket and in sports that I guess stereotypically have not been equal in the Female and Men department. It will continue to improve, but as i said before the last couple of years have been a massive step in the right directions hopefully that keeps going
Q. Having recent success in the Ashes, how are you going to maintain success heading into the World Cup in March.
A. I think the ashes series provides some really good momentum for us as a group. We quarantined here, over in New Zealand had 7 days in quarantine and then a week or so off which has been really nice to be able to refresh. All the girls are really pumped and super excited for Saturday to get underway against England again. Off the back of that ashes against the Poms it’s nice to come up against them first up, and we’ll see how we go. Super excited for what’s ahead.
Q. What do you enjoy outside of cricket?
A. It’s pretty hectic on tour, so there’s not a lot of down time. I do sneak in some lectures when I can, hopefully I don’t fall too far behind with Uni. I guess at home spending time with school mates , friends and family outside of cricket in particular just to catch up with them and live as close to normal as I can when I am at home. Do all the normal things you take for granted, going for a coffee or going for a walk with your mates. That’s certainly something I value when I’m at home.
Q. What is your perfect day out?
A. I love going to eat at a cafe, probably start there for breakfast with mates, then head off to training, I love hitting balls, so probably have a hit. Then it’s just pretty chill. I’ve got a dog so give her a walk, and i guess whether it’s time with friends or family, happy to do that and repeat it all the next day.
Annabel and her in form team are currently in New Zealand getting ready to take on the Poms in the first round of the ICC World Cup. Australia haven’t won the world cup since 2009, and they will be seeking revenge from 2017 when they lost in the semi final. Make sure you support Annabel and the Aussies when they play their first game on the 5th of March at 11:00 am.
SheSociety is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.