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School's out for Stars speedster Sutherland

16 November 2019

The moments after her final Year 12 exam perfectly summed up what's been a hectic period for the young Melbourne Star

On Tuesday morning at 11.45am, Melbourne Stars allrounder Annabel Sutherland walked out of her Year 12 chemistry exam, high school finally behind her.

She collected her phone and quickly opened the Sheffield Shield live stream from the MCG.

Three minutes later, she watched her brother Will take his maiden first-class wicket as he joined their father James - the former Cricket Australia CEO - on the honour roll of Victorian Sheffield Shield players.

Then, Sutherland jumped in the car and headed straight to Junction Oval to prepare for the Stars' showdown with reigning Rebel WBBL title-holders Brisbane Heat, to be played the following day.

It’s been that sort of season so far for 18-year-old Sutherland, who had been in and out of the Stars squad as she juggled cricket with her final Victorian Certificate of Education exams.

"It’s been tough, it’s been busy, but school’s been the priority in my last year," Sutherland told on Wednesday.

"(But) I think it’s always good to have a balance because we play so much cricket and you can get stuck in the cricket bubble, so it’s good to have an outlet.

"I’ll have to find something else to do in my spare time away from cricket now."

Sutherland bats on her way to 38 on Wednesday // Getty
Sutherland bats on her way to 38 on Wednesday // Getty

The dedicated student had no intention of letting her grades slip despite the excitement of the first the standalone season of the WBBL and has missed four of the Stars' opening eight matches.

But with school finally over, she's ready to embrace the second half of the season.

"You only do school once, so with plenty of cricket ahead I just had to focus on Year 12, as much as I’d rather have been playing cricket," Sutherland said.

"It was difficult to watch the girls from the sidelines, but I needed to get my exams done."

The pace bowler, who is also more than handy with willow in hand, only turned 18 last month but is already playing her fourth Big Bash season and her third in the Stars green after crossing over from cross-town rivals Renegades ahead of WBBL|03.

Sutherland was promoted to No.4 in the batting order for the match against the Heat this week and immediately impressed, hitting a run-a-ball 38 and sharing a 102-run stand with South African import Mignon du Preez.

Having been utilised primarily for her right-arm pace during her time in the WBBL to date, it’s a batting position she hopes to see more of as she works on that aspect of her game.

"It was a good opportunity, Mignon batted exceptionally well up there so there was no better place to be other than at the non-striker’s end watching her," Sutherland said.

"I’d like to (stay there), I think our top order probably hasn’t quite done the job yet (this season) and I’m part of that, so we’ve got a bit of responsibility over the next few games."

Sutherland collects two huge scalps

Sutherland is highly regarded in Australian cricket and was part of this year’s National Performance Squad, while she was also selected in the Australia A squad to travel to England in July, although an ankle sprain suffered shortly after the squad was announced ruled her out of the tour.

She may have another chance to don the green and gold for the 'A' team in December when they host India A in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but Sutherland said she was simply focusing on helping the Stars - who sit on the bottom of the table - to pick up some much-needed wins.

"These things happen and you can’t really control them," she said.

"I did miss the opportunity to go to England, which was devastating, but it was a chance to focus on school and knuckle down at training and get my body right.

"At the moment I’m just enjoying the Big Bash, it’s one of my favourite times of the year."

And while her studying may be done for now, Sutherland hopes to continue the juggle next year, with a science degree one option she’s considering.

"We’ll see how my results go, but I definitely want to be doing something else, whether it’s uni or part-time work.

"My brother is in second year uni at the moment and we think it’s a really good balance to have. You’ve got to have something other than cricket to get your mind off things."

The Melbourne Stars next travel to Nurioopta, in the Barossa Valley, to play the Adelaide Strikers on Saturday.