Australia allrounder Annabel Sutherland is hoping a lengthy break from cricket will actually help improve her game as she looks to build on a rapid rise to the national set-up earlier this year.
During a whirlwind few months, Sutherland was named in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad before she had made her international debut and shortly after completing Year 12 exams.
Across the tri-series involving England and India which preceded the World Cup and then the tournament itself she made six appearances, giving an early indication of her temperament with an unbeaten 22 off 11 on debut to force a Super Over against England in Canberra. Last month she was handed her first Cricket Australia contract.
One of the aspects of Sutherland’s game that has been spoken about by coaches is the potential for the extra pace she could develop over the next few years. Just two wickets came her way in the six T20Is – albeit she only sent down eight overs – and it’s that side of the game she believes can benefit from last couple of months which have given her time to focus on fitness.
Currently around the 110kph mark, Sutherland, who returns to pre-season training with Victoria next week, is targeting the 120kph range.
“I think that’s a pretty competitive pace to have,” she said. “You see it with players like Tayla Vlaeminck, who is probably one of the quickest at the moment, how much difference that extra couple of kilometers makes – there’s not a lot of players out there who can bowl that sort of pace, it certainly challenges the batters a bit more. A couple of extra ks would be nice.
“I think it’s something that will come in the next few years hopefully, it comes with building my strength as a base so it’s been nice over the last couple of months to have a solid period to work on my fitness. That’s something I’m looking to build into my game and continue to work on…and hopefully that comes through with the pace in my bowling.”
As a developing allrounder, Sutherland has soaked up plenty of advice from Ellyse Perry since joining the national set-up. It was Perry who gave her “a couple of words of wisdom” before she went out to play her debut innings against England and she was a regular sounding board during the T20 World Cup during which her participation on the field was ended by a hamstring injury.
“She’s accomplished a lot in her career and is a freak athlete,” Sutherland said of Perry. “She’s very good to have around the group, not just for her cricket but also a person. She’s helped me with my game and has always been willing to throw me balls, have a chat when I need to ask questions. Given she stuck around those last few games and couldn’t be on the field [at the World Cup] just shows how much she cares for the group.”