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More history for super Sophie

25 October 2019

Sophie Devine is the first Striker to score 1,500 Big Bash runs

Sophie Devine might have completed more than 200 limited-overs international appearances throughout her 13-year career with New Zealand to date, but she admits to feeling more nervous than usual heading into her fourth season with the Adelaide Strikers.

Her anxiety was not so much founded in the Rebel Women's Big Bash League's new profile as a standalone competition, but rather her lack of competitive cricket during a rare southern winter 'off-season'.

Those misgivings were not obvious when she opened the batting against Melbourne Renegades at Karen Rolton Oval last Saturday when, despite her extended lay-off, she belted an unbeaten 72 from 45 balls.

The 30-year-old all-rounder then followed with 48 from 30 deliveries in the next day's return meeting with the Renegades.

WBBL opening weekend: every Strikers six

Devine's double duly earned her bragging rights as the first player (female or male) to amass 1500 BBL runs for the Strikers, but she doused any suggestion she had walked to the wicket brimming with confidence at season's start.

"I was actually pretty nervous leading into the first round of games," Devine said, as the Strikers prepared for their double-header against competition leaders Hobart Hurricanes and Perth Scorchers in Brisbane this weekend.

"I haven't played that much cricket over the last six months, which is a bit unusual for me.

"The last few years I've been going season to season, but I had a bit of time off – nearly six months off from playing.

"I was trying to remember the last time I had a pre-season, it was probably four or five years ago, so I was about due.

"It was nice to see them like beach balls, but I think the work during the pre-season really paid off."

Devine previews second WBBL weekend

Through her reputation as one of the hardest and longest hitters in the women's game, Devine has compiled more than a few runs-scoring milestones including the fastest 50 (from 18 deliveries) in WT20 Internationals.

However, her ascension into Adelaide Strikers' folklore as the first to reach 1500 runs caught her by surprise given the men's outfit enjoyed a four-year head start over the women's team.

Even more noteworthy is the distance Devine has now put between the Strikers' leading men's scorer, skipper Travis Head (1051 runs from 38 matches).

Although the changed formats for the women's and men's T20 competitions, which means they are no longer staged concurrently, means she won't have many opportunities to remind her male clubmates of her unique place in Strikers history.

"I'm really proud to represent the Strikers, so to reach that milestone first – male or female – it's humbling," Devine said today.

"I thought one of the blokes might have beaten me to it.

"Unfortunately, with the standalone (competitions) I can't give them a bit of ribbing.

"But the great thing about the Adelaide Strikers is that it really is one club, and I'm sure one of the boys will be there soon."

The chance to engage in some good-natured teasing is the sole drawback Devine sees in the new summer schedule, which has the WBBL staged through October-early December while BBL|09 begins on December 17.

The veteran of 102 ODIs and 83 T20Is for the White Ferns, who first won international selection while a secondary school student at Tawa College near Wellington, believes the new format has already lived up the excitement generated when first announced.

"I think the girls have been itching for this, to be standalone," Devine said.

"We've loved sharing it with the boys and the camaraderie that goes along with sharing it alongside the Strikers and the other Big Bash teams.

"But to be able to stand on our own two feet shows that the product is valuable, and is worthy.

"And there's players from around the world.

"It's not just your (overseas) players from New Zealand, England – it's South African, West Indies, India we had last year as well.

"Now, with players like 'Lady Boom Boom', Nida Dar, (from Pakistan) coming in for the Sydney Thunder, I think it's just fantastic.

"It just shows that the game is really going global, and there's superstars all around the world."

While the Strikers now lose one of their overseas superstars – West Indies allrounder Stafanie Taylor – until the latter stages of WBBL|05, Devine is confident that replacement import Lauren Winfield (from England) can fill the void.

Taylor earned instant acclaim last Saturday when she snared a wicket with her first delivery in Strikers' colours, but Winfield brings an equally formidable skills set albeit with bat rather than ball.

"The first time I came across Lauren, she goes by the nickname 'Moose'," Devine revealed of her rival in numerous New Zealand-England encounters.

"She can 'moose' the ball, which means she can whack a long ball.

"So it's really exciting to have someone else with a bit of a power game.

"She's probably slightly different to Stafanie, but as a really aggressive batter at the top of the order she's certainly going to add a bit more firepower to our batting line-up.

"If we can really get going, there could be some big runs being scored."