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Sutherland’s whirlwind six-month tale

27 March 2020

Year 12 exams, an 18th birthday, a WBBL season, a driver’s licence test, an international debut, a home Tri-series, a home World Cup and a hug from Katy Perry: six months in the life of Annabel Sutherland.

It all started in October 2019 when Annabel celebrated her first milestone - her 18th birthday – only one week prior to the WBBL season and the start of her exams.

Balancing elite cricket and exams proved to be a challenging experience but one that spurred her love for the game.

“It was tough. It was a busy part of the year so I wasn’t around the group as much as I would have liked,” Annabel said.

“It made me understand how much I enjoy the Big Bash. (Every day) I was indoors studying, preparing for exams and then completing exams and it made me realise how much I love being a part of the Stars, so when I did get to run out on the field with the girls, I made sure I was having heaps of fun.”

However, it was a 10am phone call in January from Australian Women’s Cricket Team Head Selector Shawn Flegler that would change Annabel’s life.

“I had just woken up and he (Shawn) told me that I had been selected in the Tri-series squad (to play India and England) and the World Cup squad. I was a little bit in shock, so I didn’t give much,” she laughed.

“I hung up and Will was the only person home, but he was still asleep, so I woke him up to tell him. Then I got on to mum and dad who were playing golf with my younger brother Tom. They were all very proud.”

After making her international debut in Canberra in February, her first international wicket came in her third match of the Tri-series in front of a home crowd at CitiPower Centre.

It was India’s number three batter, Richa Ghosh, who skied one to Tayla Vlaeminck, delivering Sutherland a moment she would never forget, particularly the celebration.

“My hair was completely messed up by Midge (Alyssa Healy) and Tay (Vlaeminck) who came in and basically ruffled up my hair, but it was really special, and the girls got around me which was really nice,” Annabel said.

Weeks later, she would take to the field to represent Australia in the World Cup on three occasions.

“I still can’t believe that I was a small part of what happened. To even play once, let alone three times during the World Cup was very special. I never thought it was close to a reality to play in a home World Cup this year so for that to have happened; I’m very grateful,” she said.

On 8 March 2020, women’s cricket experienced one of its biggest moments in history. Held on International Women’s Day, the World T20 Final saw 86,174 pack the MCG to watch Australia and India battle it out.

Although she didn’t play, Annabel recalls fond memories from the iconic day.

“That was so cool. 86,000 – it was seriously unbelievable. I remember standing out there with Molly (Strano) and we were running drinks and I remember doing circles, looking at the crowd. It was definitely one of the best moments I have been a part of,” she said.

It was a post-match show from popstar Katy Perry that would cap off an incredible six months.

“We got told that we were going on stage, so we sprinted around, and we were waiting for about 10 minutes and then got let on for her last song. She was awesome and the whole thing was very very cool,” Annabel said.

So, what’s next for the young all-rounder?

As we go through unprecedented times, Annabel will hope to begin a Bachelor of Science at Melbourne University during the second half of the year while also preparing for the WBBL season.

But first thing’s first, returning a favour to teammate Nicole Faltum who was dubbed ‘Annabel’s personal Uber driver’ prior to her incredible six months.

“I’m always offering to give her a lift, but I think Nicole doesn’t mind the Uber title.”