The Cripps Roar last week-end finished their 2014-15 season and after a clean sweep against ACT it rounded off the team's most successful season since inception in the competition with 8 victories.
The results of our elite women's side highlight the progression of female cricket in the state and the hard work done by Cripps Roar coach Julia Price and her assistant David Drew as well as the work being done at grassroots level to continue to push female cricket in Tasmania in the right direction.
After finishing winless last season, the Cripps Roar's turn around in form this season was a fantastic achievement, claiming victories against every state and of course recording the three wins in a row against ACT at Blundstone Arena to complete their season.
In past years the top 4 in the WT20 competition played in the semi-final stage and the top 2 sides played off in the WNCL One Day competition Final. However, unfortunately for the Roar, this season this was switched around and only the top 2 sides play finals in the T20 format. This change gives the team something to strive for next season however and the Roar will look to improve on their One-Day game after finishing 6th in this competition.
Whilst the core group remained the same from last season the inclusion of two International players paid dividends. England International Heather Knight proved to be a superb contributor, her performances with the bat helping the side record victories on several occasions.
However it was also her experience and knowledge of the game which nurtured the young Cripps Roar side this season. New Zealand International Amy Sattherthwaite also came into the squad for two rounds and her performances again emphasised the influence such talents can have on a developing squad. Long-time squad members Erin Burns and Corinne Hall also had solid seasons and combined with the Internationals to lead the way.
Heather Knight in action at Aurora Stadium
Another large contributor to the turn-around is Head Coach and former Southern Star Julia Price. Price played 84 ODIs and 10 Tests for Australia and moved to Tasmania for her final year in the WNCL competition in 2012 after playing with Queensland throughout her career.
Price took over the coaching reigns last season in a move which former Southern Stars great Lisa Sthalekar described as "a stroke of genius".
"Her knowledge and experience at the highest level was certainly needed, but the respect and professionalism she has brought to the squad has seen a dramatic change in the group", Sthalekar recently wrote in a cricket.com.au column.
Price said herself that in her first year of coaching it was all about the basics and although she was disappointed to not record a victory last season she said it set up a base for 2014-15.
"After last season, we could really start to launch ourselves for this season, "Price said
"Obviously having Heather (Knight) come into the side was really great, having that experience out in the middle was extremely beneficial and then Amy (Satterthwaite) coming in and picking up where Heather left off was great.
"I think the girls have really learned a lot from the pair. They now understand how to win games and what they need to do in the field when they are bowling and what to do in the middle when they were batting to ultimately finish matches off and get these wins.
"In the past we have actually got close to winning games we just just didn't know how to actually do it. This year they know how to do it and they have that want and that will and that belief that they can do it too."
Cripps Roar celebrate a wicket against Queensland
Price also said that the winning culture which the Roar have developed has come from team bonding away from the field and the extras the girls put in had brought the side together, which has reflected in the results.
"When Heather came over she brought a lot of confidence to the group and experience from a national setup. The girls were doing a lot of extra work off the field as a group which started working for them on the field and they started to see the correlation between all of it.
"They started doing yoga, going for runs together and did a lot of additional work as a team.
"At the end of the day cricket is about having a good time, it's nice when you win games but the fact they have done both these things this year means it has been a great season for them all and puts us in a good place going forward".
Cripps Roar celebrate a victory against QLD under lights at Aurora Stadium
And moving forward the future is looking bright with the Tasmanian pathway continually being developed to see future Meg Phillips', Katelyn Fryett's and Brooke Hepburn's running around grounds across the state, the three girls excellent examples of the current Tasmanian pathway system.
"One of the most pleasing things this season was seeing Meg Phillips score 68 in our final round, it was absolutely fantastic" Price said.
"We have a bit of a balance of Internationals and interstaters in our team alongside our local talent but when you can see the progress in the local products it's a great example of how Tasmanian cricket is moving forward.
"Brooke Hepburn has also improved a lot this year alongside Katelyn Fryett. Katelyn's T20 bowling was very good this year after being good in the 50-over format last year.
"The new pathway system will probably take a few years to really kick in but it's a really positive start and we have a lot of girls playing hard ball cricket in the state and have had the getwinesdirect Intrastate Cup series increased to 5-games in the 50-over format which was really pleasing.
"All these little things have helped to give local girls that extra opportunity to play at the top level and hopefully we will have another Australian representative from Tasmania very soon."
getwinesdirect Intrastate Cup action
At the front of the development program pathway for female cricket is Mia Blignaut, Cricket Tasmania's Female Engagement Coordinator who has overseen the successful implementation of junior to senior programs.
This season there has been closer collaboration with the High Performance Managers and coaches to transition talented underage players from participation programs such as the Rookie and Emerging Roar programs into focused high performance programs.
The program has seen fantastic results highlighted by two U15 'Roar Cubs' making the team of the championships- Sophie Parkin and Courtney Webb with Sophie also taking out the Leading Wicket Taker award at the National U15 Championships.
U15 Tasmanian Coach Adam Drinkwell with Sophie Parkin and Courtney Webb
There have been several highlights this season for female grassroots cricket also with the new CTPL U17 Girls roster being one of them.
The competition saw six brand new teams with New Town CC and SHSB finishing on top of the ladder and New Town being crowned inaugural champions in December.
"New Town winning the U17 competition was a direct result of some amazing work within female cricket at the club and in particular the work of Sally Bennett and Shane Reardon who have been developing their club over the past four years," Blignaut said.
In another coup for the game in the state, the North and North-West regions now have standalone women's competitions with two new teams in the Northern roster this year allowing this to occur. Before this season, Northern teams had to play in the NW Crowe Horwath Competition. The CTPL roster this season has also increased with all eight Premier League teams taking part this season, which is a total of 16 teams across Tasmania.
This alongside 88 girls participating in the MILO T20 Blast roster across the State, 16 teams in the Southern Girls High School Roster and a new High School Roster in Launceston and plans to run a similar roster in the North West puts female cricket in good stead.
Participants in the Rookie program
"The focus of our high school rosters are very much participation based with the aim to introduce girls to cricket in a fun and social environment and then through promotional and recruiting incentives, integrate them into club teams down the road," Blignaut said.
"Our ultimate goal is to have a sustainable participation pathway up and running by 2016-17 so that there is a suitable format, roster or program available for a girl from MILO in2CRICKET at the age of 5 all the way through to senior club and State cricket."
To coincide with the final round of WNCL matches at Blunstone Arena, Cricket Tasmania hosted a Women's cricket function organised by former Tasmanian players Jacqui Triffitt, Kim Fazackerley and Amanda Pearton alongside the ACA. All females who have played for Tasmania were presented with Tasmanian caps alongside coaching staff- as pictured above.