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Sting in the Scorpions’ tail

Davis Harrigan speaks to South Australia Scorpions captain Lauren Ebsary ahead of the women’s state cricket season.

The Women’s National Cricket League and Women’s Twenty20 kick off on this weekend and the South Australia Scorpions are preparing for another competitive season.

Captain Lauren Ebsary is preparing the side for its first WT20 match against the Victoria Spirit at Melbourne’s Junction Oval on October 10. Getting to the finals is one of the key aims this season, says the 31-year-old skipper.

“We’re pretty keen to play finals. We narrowly missed out on the WNCL final last year,” Ebsary tells upstart. “We’re hoping to achieve a finals berth in both [competitions].

“We’ve got a couple more internationals that are joining us to bolster last season’s outfit. We were a young team last year, so we weren’t expecting major things, but we finished off last season pretty well.”

Victoria and New South Wales have set the standard over recent years in Australia, securing nine out of the last ten trophies between them, across the Twenty20 and One-Day competitions. The dynamic of last year’s WT20 has now made it “open to anyone”, says Ebsary.

“I think last year’s final between ACT and Queensland demonstrated just how open it is. The Victorians and New South Wales [teams] have a lot of the Australian reps, but we are starting to see a spread and that dominance is now fading.”

With that changing of the guard, Ebsary believes the remaining teams can make a move on the trophy.

“Teams like us, Tasmania, and the ACT are starting to get a sniff, and realise that we can certainly beat those the other teams, and the fear is diminishing. We’ve got to start really well and come home strong.”


Lauren Ebsary made her debut for SA in 2000, aged 17. Picture source: Cricket SA


Sarah Taylor from England and Sophie Devine from New Zealand will bring more than 260 matches of international experience to the Scorpions, providing a huge boost to a squad that includes names such as Megan Schutt and young Bridget Patterson.

Ebsary says the Scorpions were “pretty particular” about who they wanted to sign for the season to fill their international player slots.

“We thought one more batsmen (Devine) would be fantastic, and we probably snared the best international cricketers going around.

“Sophie captains Wellington, and she’s an all-rounder, so she’s going to be there for her bowling, but more so for her batting. We’ll be utilising Sarah at the top of the order for her high calibre batting.”

Plenty of interest has been invested into Australian women’s cricket, and much of it is thanks to new innovations from the commercial TV networks last season. Ebsary says the increased coverage of the women’s game can help children of both genders to become enamoured with the sport.

“I used to emulate Andrew Symonds, purely from watching on TV and his ability with the bat,” says Ebsary. “The more access kids have to their idols, the higher the participation rates may be.”

Ebsary has plenty of demand and pressure placed on her role as skipper, but the mentality of keeping a positive image for the Scorpions, she says, with the help of governing bodies, allows for game promotion that further strengthens the relationship of the women’s game with the existing and new audience.

“We want to push that we have an exciting brand, and Cricket Australia is pushing out the message of ‘Australia’s favourite sport’,” Ebsary says.

“Whenever we are talking to the media, we’re the driving the message out there and making sure players are professional in public.”

At state level, there are always the expectation to perform well, but the Scorpions have such a varied list of talent that there is plenty in the pool who can stand up.

“We had seven debutantes last year, and almost all of them had a breakout year, but Sam Betts and Talia McGrath stand out,” says Ensary.

“They’re mainly bowlers, but we shaped Tahlia [McGrath] into a number five or six bat, and to potentially come up the order.”

Women’s cricket will continue to grow both on television and at the ground, with the Scorpions set to play two WT20 matches ahead of Adelaide Strikers home games in the Big Bash League at the Adelaide Oval. An initiative that will hopefully attract more people to the redeveloped stadium, before the main clash.

“The girls are absolutely stoked to play on Adelaide Oval, because we’ve been pushed off the ground in recent years because of the redevelopment. It’s a fantastic initiative that only encourages more people to come down and watch us.”

The calibre of the players the Scorpions have signed will have the rest of the sides on the back foot to try and contain them. Victoria won’t relent though, with a host of powerful players to stare down South Australia.

Davis Harrigan is a third year Bachelor of Journalism (Sport) student at La Trobe University.  Follow him on Twitter: @Davis_Harr


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