AFTER three years in the cricketing wilderness, Yenda’s Kate Blackwell is back – and clearly, she’s as good as ever.
Blackwell made a surprise comeback from retirement on the weekend for the Western Fury in the Women’s National Cricket League, smashing 63 as her side claimed a 46-run win over the ACT Meteors at the WACA Ground.
The former Southern Stars bat looked like she’d never left the game, lighting up the wagon wheel in her first appearance at national level since 2010, knocking seven boundaries along the way.
The 30-year-old said she couldn’t deny a second approach in as many years from her former Australian coach, WA mentor Steve Jenkin, to return to the game and provide some much-needed experience to a side filled with emerging cricketers.
“It’s a pretty amazing opportunity to be asked to play for a state and it was a little too hard to turn down,” she told The Area News.
“This year I thought I could manage that commitment again and really, it’s just about enjoying the sport again and what it has to offer.
“I played cricket for 20 years and a lot of those years were at the top level, so hopefully I can be a good influence for those young players.
“There’s a lot of people that I guess I’ve lost touch with because I haven’t been playing, and getting the chance to catch up with friends all across the country and to see where the state of women’s cricket is great.
“As players the best thing we can do to give back to the game is to play and continue and provide that good example for the younger ones coming through, and I’ve been lucky enough to get that opportunity.”
Blackwell is still based in Sydney but will travel to meet up with the Fury for their WNCL matches.
It means she isn’t able to train week-in, week-out with her teammates, but she keeps her eye in with her local club side - and also her identical twin Alex, skipper of the NSW Breakers and still an important part of the Southern Stars top-order.
“I’m really familiar with what’s required to get yourself fit and prepared for matches. I don’t see that as a challenge at all,” she said.
“I’m able to do that on my own here and Alex is a pretty useful resource, of course.
“To be honest, I’ve got a very different mindset now about my cricket. It’s not about anything more than enjoyment.”
That mindset clearly held Blackwell in good stead on Saturday, reaching her half-century in just 51 balls, and doing so in style - with a four driven through extra cover.
“It was really nice to get out there. I was really excited leading up to it, it’s been a few years,” she said.
“I really didn’t have any pressure on me. Steve just said to play the way I always have so I went out there with a really clear mind. It was all about being positive and looking to score, and it came off. It worked really well for me.”
Blackwell’s next outing for WA will be against Queensland in Toowoomba in two weeks - but undoubtably the one she’s most looking forward to is on January 2, when the Fury takes on NSW.
It will be the first time Kate and Alex have ever faced each other outside of intra-squad warm-up matches.
“We’ll enjoy it. It’ll be a really nice weekend and good, healthy competition. Nothing more than that,” she laughed.
“I think other people might try and make it a bit more but we’ve always been so supportive of each other and our cricketing endeavours.”