She didn’t have to bowl an off-spinner or crack a quick half-century in the middle order, but NSW women’s cricket captain Lisa Sthalekar was still able to walk away with the National League trophy on Saturday.
With wet weather causing the final against South Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground to be called off without a ball being bowled, NSW Breakers were awarded the trophy having finished on top of the competition ladder with seven wins from eight matches.
It was the 10th time the Breakers have won the national title and the third time Sthalekar has hoisted the trophy, having taken over the captaincy in the 2005-06 season.
She also captains Universities Women’s Cricket Club in the Sydney grade competition Other UWCC players in the NSW side are twins Alex and Kate Blackwell.
The three UWCC have been selected in a 13-women Australian squad to take on England in a Test match and five one-day internationals in Australia next month when Stalker will act as vice-captain to Karen Rolton.
Sthalekar made her Test debut in the women’s Ashes series against England in the 2002-03 season and scored 120 not out in the second innings of the drawn second Test at Bankstown Oval. She has been a member of the Australian one-day side since the 2000-01 season.
Alex Blackwell, a right-arm medium pacer who bats in the middle-order, made her Test debut against England on their 2002-03 Ashes tour, while Kate gained international honours when she toured Sri Lanka with the Australian Under-23 side in 2003. Their consistent performances with UWCC and NSW during the 2004-05 season saw them earn World Cup berths.
The Australian selectors have made one change to the national squad, with Queensland all-rounder Kirsten Pike replacing Victoria’s Clea Smith.
The squad also includes Ellyse Perry, who became the youngest Australian to play international cricket when she made her debut as a 16-year-old in the second ODI of the Rose Bowl Series against New Zealand last July.
The Southern Stars will play a curtain-raiser against England before the Australian men take on India in a Twenty20 match at the MCG on February 1.
Australia will be looking to reverse the 2005 one-day series in England, where they lost 3-2 while the Southern Stars won the two-Test series 1-0.
The Australian squad: Karen Rolton (capt), Sarah Andrews, Alex Blackwell, Kate Blackwell, Ellyse Perry, Lisa Sthalekar (NSW), Kris Britt, Shelley Nitschke, Emma Sampson (SA), Melissa Bulow, Jodie Purves, Kirsten Pike (Qld), Sarah Edward (Vic).
By Graham Croker