Perth Scorcher and recently retired Western Fury star Jenny Wallace goes one on one with the ACA to reflect on her playing career, her favourite cricket moments, how the WBBL has transformed women's cricket in Australia and how the bar needs to be continually raised.
You made your state debut in 2003-2004 for NSW Breakers. You played for that side until 2007-2008 - what was behind your decision to move to Perth and continue your playing career there with the Western Fury?
The change was connected to a work change. I received a call from the High Performance Manager at the WACA who asked me to take a look at a job they were recruiting for. I followed it through, got the job and decided to take the chance on a two year move. Nine years later I am still in Perth and have enjoyed being part of the Fury & Scorchers squads.
Playing for over 13 years in the WNCL, WT20 and mostly recently WBBL competitions - what has been your favourite playing memory?
For NSW, it would have to be winning the grand final series at North Sydney Oval vs QLD in 2005/2006. Contributing with the bat in the low scoring deciding game & the amazing finish where we took three wickets for two runs to win by only two runs. Seeing Charlotte Anneveld return for her second spell & take four wickets to win the game was special.
Having won the Zoe Goss Medal for the Fury in 2010-2011 - was this some of the best cricket you have played in your state career?
Yes that year I was consistently scoring runs and the ball just felt like it was hitting my gloves perfectly. I felt very confident with my game. Our team had a number of great bowlers who I kept up to the stumps regularly to and I was able to enjoy a number of stumping opportunities.
What was the reason behind your decision to retire from the WNCL competition, and what are your new playing goals?
My age and own expectations on how I should be contributing to the team were the main indicators to me that it was time to retire. As for my next goals, I am finishing off the cricket season with my club team, Melville. I have passed the gloves to a young player and am roaming the field to do something a little different. I am looking to get identified as an up and coming leg spinner. Who knows what future WBBL may bring...!
People who have played with you and against you would say Jenny Wallace is one of the toughest and most competitive players in the women's domestic game. What has helped you maintain such a successful career on the field?
I am a cricket tragic. I love the game, strategy, technique, and how individuals can turn the game with a moment of great skill. It is a game that can turn so quickly and that element has always kept me interested. Moments such as tying your opposition down or fighting even from the seemingly hopeless positions in a game are great examples. I genuinely love playing cricket and keeping has allowed me to constantly be in the action.
As a long-serving and leading wicketkeeper, you have been known to take some very efficient leg side stumpings. What does it mean for you to be a leading wicketkeeper and important member of the fielding side?
I do love a leg side stumping and a good diving catch! Keepers really set the tone for the fielding unit. We can keep everything moving, get fellow teammates going, and make things look sharp & tidy. As a young keeper I had great role models to look up to who were very skilled, resilient, full of energy, and worked exceptionally hard on being the best keeper they could be. Christina Matthews, Leonie Coleman & Brad Haddin were keepers I got to work with when I was starting out my career & I just loved the enthusiasm they had at training. I wanted to be like them in my career.
You recently played for the Perth Scorchers in the hugely successful WBBL competition - how important is this tournament to the improvement of women's cricket in Australia and increasing the participation of girls in cricket?
The WBBL has been a brilliant step forward for women's cricket in Australia. Aligning with the existing BBL clubs and schedule immediately made the competition relevant. Great coverage on television, cross promotion from BBL to WBBL, constant social media content & having the best domestic & international players on show has meant the reach of the game has increased dramatically. This will increase participation at the grass roots level. It will also provide a very exciting career path for talented female athletes who may have considered playing another sport professionally.
Perth Scorchers unfortunately missed out on the WBBL final, but what was your favourite moment?
What a whirlwind tournament! A few things I will remember fondly are playing on Adelaide Oval because it was the last of the major Aussie venues left for me to play on, taking a diving catch off English quick Katherine Brunt, having young kids ask for autographs at airports, having adults talk about certain player's recent statistics, and a number of other amazing opportunities. The level of fan engagement was awesome!
Which format (WNCL or WBBL or both) have you enjoyed the most and why?
Both formats are great for many reasons. Being the cricket tragic I am, if CA had introduced a two -day or four-day competition I would have loved that too!
Managing professional work, a semi-professional cricket career, study and family priorities is tough for any professional athlete. You currently work for Eco-Fit Homes as a Pre-Build Coordinator full-time in Perth. You are an example of someone who has managed to further your goals in your professional work career but also strive forward with your cricket goals. How have you achieved this and do you have any advice for young cricketers on their journey into the professional sporting world?
The key for me has been developing relationships with my employers. I share my cricket life with them; current results, my goals, outside experiences also. I have always worked hard in my professional roles to get my work completed which has helped build trust with my employer. My work colleagues know that I can perform at work and at cricket and it will not affect my performance.
You have been a long-serving and passionate ACA delegate - what has been your motivation for taking up the role?
When I was first in the NSW U19/2nd Xl set ups a group of senior players who I admired addressed us a group. These were women who were currently at the top of the game or had previously played at the top. They all had successful careers outside of cricket and they found the time to sit on committees, run cricket associations, and fill coach/president/accountant roles at their local club. These ladies were great competitors on the field, but off the field they always had time for me. Their motivation was to "leave the game in a better place than how they found it". This motivation has stayed with me & is something I hope I can follow on with as I finish my playing career.
What are the key issues that need to be addressed to take the women's game forward in Australia?
It is time for women's cricket to move away from the semi-professional tag. Scheduling needs to improve to reduce the impact on full-time workers and to improve the end product on the field. A lot of ground has been made with the introduction of WNCL and WBBL contracts. This has secured the footing for the domestic level payments to improve as well for Southern Stars players. The recent ACA private health initiative was also a great step forward in relieving some of the financial pressure on female players but provide them with comprehensive health cover.
The big goal is for domestic & international level players to have minimum contract amounts that could allow a player financial security & true professional status. Developing strong and sustainable underage national competitions, plus local senior & junior club competitions is also a huge priority for women's cricket in Australia.
How has the ACA supported you in your playing and off-field career?
The ACA has been a great avenue of support for me throughout my career. Support has included accessing member benefits such as skin cancer checks, access to Kookaburra gear, member functions, private health insurance, counselling, financial advisors, career planning and influencing change across pay & minimum standards and working towards supporting better conditions for female cricketers.
Unfortunately I had completed my university degree by the time the education grants came in, however in retirement I am looking forward to being a part of the Beyond the Boundary and Past Players Programs.
What do you enjoy off the field in your spare time away from the game of cricket?
Away from cricket I am a sporting tragic. In the winter I follow the Parramatta Eels and Fremantle Dockers and my favourite time of year is State Of Origin (rugby league). I am also a keen surfer, read crime books, binge watch TV shows, and go camping with friends. I enjoy eating at new restaurants and bars and exploring new places we haven't tried. I have two dogs, Mille & Houston who keep me busy. Now that I will have a little bit more time I'm going to look at radio/podcasting and mainly I hope to see a lot more of my family & friends both here in WA and back in NSW!