Sport Hannah Darlington: Australia’s next big thing is ready to lead her state

08:17  23 february  2021
08:17  23 february  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

Darlington NSW's youngest-ever captain

  Darlington NSW's youngest-ever captain Hannah Darlington has capped a big week, following her first call-up to the Australia squad by becoming the youngest cricket captain in NSW's 165-year history.Darlington on Friday capped a crazy week by being named the youngest captain - men's or women's - in NSW's 165-year history, just days after being picked in her first Australian squad for the tour of New Zealand.

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Even though she is only 19, Hannah Darlington is already held in such high regard in Australian cricket circles.

She was recently named as vice-captain of a NSW Breakers side in the middle of a rebuild and developing some incredible young talent.

On Tuesday, Darlington was also named in her first Australian squad on the back of a breakout year for the title-winning Sydney Thunder in WBBL06.

She will join the likes of Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy as they prepare for a big two years of cricket that includes two World Cups and a debut Commonwealth Games.

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Sporting News spoke with Darlington only after the Breakers first two WNCL matches and the prospect of being selected for Australia wasn't even on her mind.

"I think Australian selection should look after itself," Darlington said on the back of her recent form

"It's not something to worry about. I kind of look at that Australian team, they're the best.

"If a selection was to come up, I'd obviously be super stoked. But at the moment, my main focus is with the [NSW] Breakers and the Sydney Thunder."

It's a testament to Darlington's composure and maturity that even after being promoted to vice-captain of NSW, international selection wasn't really on her mind.

The call came out of the blue from Shawn Flegler, catching her on the hop at NSW training.

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A4 Tini is ready to meet the difficulties of the real world. A. The world’ s first public passenger railway was built in Great Britain in 1826 and ran between the industrial north-eastern towns of Stockton and Darlington . After 180 years’ experience the British say that their trains still don’t seem to run efficiently or even safely. On average, about 500 accidents with broken rail tracks happen in the country every year.

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"I was in the middle of a bike session at training and I saw Flegler's name come up on my watch," Darlington said on Tuesday.

"I had to quickly run across and grab my phone and get out of the training building as quickly as possible to make sure no one saw.

"It was a really nice phone call to get. I've gotten a couple of calls from him [before] but I wasn't sure if this was going to be the call of being a reserve or you're selected in the squad.

"I think this is only going to be a benefit for my career, even if I don't play I'd be super stoked to be around the Australian squad.

"They're the best in the world and it's the first tour since the T20 World Cup so they're going to be looking to bring on some momentum after that and it will be the perfect squad to learn off."

It was made clear when the squad was announced that Darlington's selection was T20 focused for the Commonwealth Games and World Cup in the next two years.

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However, it's her leadership ability that has also seen her rocket into contention as one of Australia's premier bowlers.

She will now be competing with the likes of Megan Schutt, Tayla Vlaeminck and fellow teenager Darcie Brown for the coveted fast-bowling positions.

She has the form but her NSW Breakers coach Dom Thornley believes she has a sense for the game that he hasn't seen in too many other players.

"This is actually Hannah's first full season in contract with the Breakers," Thornley told Sporting News.

"Prior to that, I've been a huge admirer of her development.

"She's been in pathway teams, she's been in indigenous teams, she's been contributing at her club team.

"From the get-go, you could sense her awareness of the game is very strong, she's a very mature player for her age.

"The X-Factor that she has is a great ability to absorb pressure and she shows terrific leadership in that space.

"Her field placements and demeanour just stood out as a quality leader."

The fact that Darlington was named as vice-captain of the Breakers with the likes of Rachael Haynes, who is still the Australian vice-captain, still in the team speaks to the regard in which she is held.

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With a player voted leadership group, Darlington had the full support of Healy, Haynes and other senior members of the NSW squad to take on that role.

There was no hesitation from the 19-year-old in taking the role either.

"I've always captained, whether it's the under 15 sides to NSW sides to Cricket Australia tournaments and underage pathways, I was always in a leadership role," Darlington told Sporting News.

"To be able to do that, from a young age probably puts me in good stead to get a role like this at only 19.

"I've just kind of always been in those roles. So I'm pretty comfortable doing it."

Healy is set to miss the Breakers' next WNCL match against Tasmania, meaning that Darlington's debut as state captain could come while she is still a teenager.

That opportunity at state level was a big contributing factor to her Australian selection.

Flegler spoke about Darlington on Tuesday and while he obviously focused on her supreme ability with the ball and the variation in her bowling, there was one extra factor that stood out.

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"It's a bonus with her leadership qualities as well," Flegler told reporters.

"I've seen that in the pathway system, she's captained the NSW Metro team and obviously she's been selected as the vice-captain of the NSW team.

"It's a great opportunity and she'll grab it with both hands."

While it's clear Darlington lives and breathes cricket, she still does what she can to lead what she calls a "normal" life.

Studying Marine Biology at Macquarie University, Darlington takes that as an opportunity to take a break from the game.

"We're getting three days off a week at the moment to be able to live our lives as you know, normal people or as a uni student," Darlington said.

"There's plenty of time off to be able to pursue that and it's a nice escape from cricket as well just to be able to do something a little bit different

"It was just an experience as a kid at a Marine Park. It was kind of cool to see them go about looking after the animals.

"From that moment on, it was marine science that I wanted to do and happy enough to get the marks I needed to get into the course."

Darlington was also recently named the Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year, yet another accolade to add to her growing list of achievements.

With so much attention on our current Australian women's cricket side and their world-beating ways, it's easy to get distracted and forget about the next generation coming through.

But Darlington has already made a name for herself and is leading a path for a crowd of talented young cricketers behind her.

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usr: 1
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