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Setting the pace: meet one of Australia's T20 top guns

At Play People of Adelaide

The city will be swept up in a cricket spin as the ICC T20 World Cup local action kicks off in Adelaide from 16 February with a series of women’s warm-up matches at Karen Rolton Oval inside Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga (Park 25) in the West Park Lands. 

Flying the flag for Adelaide in the Australian women’s side will be local legend, Megan Schutt – who last year made her way into the sport’s history books by becoming the first Australian bowler to take a hat-trick in a Women’s One Day international and the first female bowler to take two hat-tricks in international cricket.

Growing up in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, Megan’s first attempts at the game were in the family yard where an old, plastic tennis racquet stood in for the traditional cricket bat. Glen McGrath was a childhood hero, but it was local players like Karen Rolton and Shelley Nitschke who Megan looked up to once she’d made it into South Australia’s women’s team for the first time in 2009.

“When I was moving through the women’s cricket scene in Adelaide it was rough around the edges, to say the least,” said Megan. “The state program in SA was very amateur, so much so that early in my Australian career I was flown into the Victorian program from time to time, just for training. There was no funding and no resources, so it was basically net’s training twice a week.”

Fast forward to 2020 and how things have changed for the better – worldwide and in her hometown.

“It’s amazing to see the transformation. We have an awesome full-time program, with access to all the resources we need – including specialist coaches. Safe to say it has come in leaps and bounds since I first began state 10 years ago. Grassroots cricket is providing lots of clinics for younger girls, which I believe is the perfect way to get more girls involved in the game.”
Megan Schutt, Australian cricketer

These are exciting times for women’s cricket and Megan feels like she’s part of a truly significant era in the sport.

“Oh, most definitely. We are very fortunate to be in the position we are in, as players. We know the players before us paved the way and fought for rights that are now paying dividends.

"Women’s cricket is now broadcast all around Australia and the world, at an international level as well as the WBBL. Young girls can now see their idols, as well as a future career if they wished to pursue cricket. All girls’ clinics from a young age are encouraging girls to take up the sport – whereas they might not have been as comfortable being amongst the boys.”

A realist, Megan knows that there are bound to be bumps in the road to come.

“There will always be doubters, haters, whatever you wish to call them. The challenge will be not letting them have a voice and proving them wrong. It will be teaching young girls that cricket is a sport for them, not just for boys.”

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MEGAN SCHUTT (ON SHOULDERS) 

When the women’s teams walk out onto the turf at Karen Rolton Oval for the upcoming ICC T20 Women’s World Cup warm-up matches in Adelaide, they’ll be stepping onto on a field named after one of South Australia’s trailblazers in women’s cricket, in a park bearing the name of a strong Kaurna and Narnungga woman - Gladys Elphick - a champion for equality, advocating against discrimination of Aboriginal people and who worked as a social worker for women. 

For Megan, it’ll be a “bloody awesome” moment and she hopes to continue seeing advancements for gender equality in cricket and the community more generally.

“It’s essential we keep moving forward in society, and we can do this by recognising important people – especially women and indigenous women. Inclusion and diversity matters, it’s important for sport and for everyone if every single person feels they are welcome in this world.”
Megan Schutt

Six teams will play five women’s warm-up matches at Karen Rolton Oval between 16 and 19 February 2020, with host nation Australia taking on South Africa on 18 February.

As the clock counts down to the first of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup warm-up matches, we asked Megan to hit these questions ‘for six’:
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MEGAN SCHUTT IN ACTION

Whose wicket are you most keen to score?
“Lizelle Lee from South Africa, she can be an absolute game changer."

Which female bowler at the World Cup level do you most fear facing?
“Hopefully I’m not doing much batting during the WC! But, if I have to hold the willow, I would rather not face Lea Tahuhu.”

How do you squash nerves?
“I just embrace them. Nerves are good – they mean you care. I’ve learnt that you’ll never really play a game without them. So just back yourself and take the opportunity.”

Who’s your biggest supporter?
“It’s probably a tie between my parents and my wife, Jess. All three of them always have my back, not to mention they can deal with me when I’m moody after a loss ha-ha”

What sort of pitch are you hoping for at Karen Rolton Oval?
“Well we just played two WNCL matches there and there was quite a bit of grass left on the wicket, which gave it great carry. I would love to have that again, with a decent balance between Bat v Ball. Too often are T20 wickets an absolute road.”

What three things should international players experience in the city?
“Paddle boat down the River Torrens, see our beautiful art museum and of course – visit Adelaide Oval.”


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Skye Murtagh

Skye Murtagh

Skye is Adelaide Living's main driving force. She is passionate about sharing stories from all walks of life. When she's not busy weaving beautiful words together, she's singing a line or two from her favourite song.