When the heavens spilled open over Blacktown International Sports Park on Saturday evening, Emma Hughes was “devastated”.
The pace bowler had been raring to go in the second annual WBBL under 18 exhibition match – a game showcasing Australia’s best up-and-coming Twenty20 cricketers, under lights, in front of a WBBL crowd.
But as the preceding WBBL fixture between the Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Stars was abandoned due to hail, the showcase was also called off.
“I was pretty devastated when it got called off because I was keen to have a game,” Hughes said.
“But we ended up going back to the hotel and having a team talk.
“It was a bit disappointing not to pay because I was looking forward to seeing what is was like and what the other girls were like playing and sussing out the competition.”
Disappointment was replaced by delight on Sunday as the second planned exhibition game went ahead – albeit without the WBBL fanfare – and Hughes was dominant.
Her Perry XII couldn’t overcome the Lanning XII, but Hughes was the pick of the bowlers taking 2-11 off just four overs.
She bowled in partnership with South Australian Darcie Brown (1-32), to great effect.
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“I got the openers out and at that stage the other bowlers were getting hit for quite a few runs so being able to work in partnership with the other bowler, dotting them up and making them take risks, it really worked for me,” Hughes said.
“It’s a massive opportunity. I was so happy with how I came out after that game because I was focusing on my games rather than the [Australian under 19] selectors.
“I came off like ‘that worked great for me!’ And it got me a mindset that I can really try my hardest and still do really well.
“Being able to play my top form … it meant a lot to me.”
Hughes now heads to Victorian where she’ll contest the Under 18 National Championships with ACT/NS Country.
They’ll spend the first week contesting the T20 title in Bendigo, before heading to Ballarat for the one-day competition. The overall winners will be crowned Australian champions.
The Macquarie seamer will again be aiming to wreak havoc on opposition batting line-ups, but also hopes to have a chance to contribute with the bat – particularly in the one-day games.
It’s a part of her game she’s been working with, with the assistance of former Australian representative Leah Poulter.
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“I’d love to come in at any point when the game requires me to be able to bat … but as expected, my main skill is pace bowling,” Hughes said.
“I’m just excited to show how hard I’ve worked here at home, with all my training.
“The squad is very skilled so I trust them wholeheartedly with fielding my bowling, and batting, and I reckon we’ve got quite a strong chance and I’m really looking forward to playing with them as a team.
Australian and NSW selectors will be present, and Hughes hopes the trips to Sydney, endless strength and conditioning and hours in the nets will pay off.
But she’s also determined to “have some fun”.
“It’s my last year in under 18s, so just to have some fun and display my hard work would be my optimal goal,” Hughes said.
“But if I do get selected instead of being a reserve this year that would be great.”