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Monday, 26 March 2018 08:33

If the Aussie cap fits …

She has done it! Bairnsdale’s Sophie Molineux has made her international cricket debut, presented with her Australian Southern Stars cap in Mumbai, India, last Thursday. The international cap marks a meteoric rise up the national cricketing ranks for the 20–year-old, from a talented West Bairnsdale junior and promising domestic rookie. Picked on her first tour only weeks ago, Sophie has been with the Australian squad for three one-day international wins against India, before the T20 tri series against India and England started last Thursday with Sophie’s debut. Former Australian all-rounder, Shelley Nitschke, presented Sophie – a left-arm off-spinner and top and middle order batter, with T20 cap – number 48 – on the ground at Brabourne Stadium. “I’ve got the honour of awarding you your first cap for Australia, congratulations on your T20 debut today, number 48, that’s yours and no one can take that away from you,” Nitschke said. “Things like this don’t happen with luck, they take a lot of hard work so I think the work you’ve put in particularly over the last 12-18 months is a credit to yourself to get here today. “It’s a combination of hard work by you but I’m sure there’s been a lot of people along the way back in Bairnsdale who’ve contributed to you being here today, so take note, this is for them as well, I’m sure there are plenty of proud people out there who’d like to be here today.

“I’m very honoured to present this to you, I wish you all the best today and I’m sure it’s the start of a great career.” Molineux started her green and gold career well, taking three catches to help dismiss Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and Anuja Patil. She bowled two overs with figures of 0/15, but after going for 10 runs off the first over she was able to tighten the screws in the second. Australia restricted India to 5/152 after the 20 overs. Sophie wasn’t required with the bat after the Australians passed the score four wickets down in the 19th over. Interviewed after the game, Molineux said it was “pretty special”. “I actually got a tear in my eye which was quite nice. “Obviously a dream of mine and to be here in India and have my cap presented by Shell, who I’ve always looked up to and really enjoyed working with her over here, was a pretty special moment and I’ll remember it really fondly.” She was than asked about the three catches in the field. “Mandhana was on today so I couldn’t drop that one! I was pretty lucky it stuck in the hands and I just hoped to play my role in the team and if the ball came to me I just tried to get something behind it because it’s such a quick outfield and the ball kept following me today, luckily it turned out well.” Sophie played her second game with the Aussies against England on Friday, batting first and making 8/149, with Sophie having her first bat (at number seven) and making six runs off 12 balls before being caught. She also bowled three overs for 0/23 as England chased down the total in the 17th over only two wickets down. The Australians play India again today and England on Wednesday.

Sophie grew up in Bairnsdale and played for West Bairnsdale Cricket Club before being picked up by women’s Big Bash League team, Melbourne Renegades, where she has since starred over the last two seasons, playing 38 matches, making 623 runs at an average of 23.96 and a highest score of 62. With the ball she has taken 23 wickets at an average of 24.60 and best bowling figures of 4/18. Molineux has also received player of the match four times and was this season awarded young gun of the year. Molineux’s first game of cricket was on Friday, February 9, 2007, were she played for her local club West Bairnsdale. Eleven years later she remains in the green and gold colours but this time it’s for Australia and her parents Mark and Therese Molineux couldn’t be prouder. The pair received the news when Sophie ‘Facetimed’ them. “As soon as I herd the news I cried,” Therese said. “We are just so very proud of her and that she has got a reward for all her hard work.” Living three hours out of Melbourne made it tough for the family, but it didn’t stop them. “She has had her ups and downs, but she stuck at it and put in a lot of hard work and commitment,” Mark said. With the family growing up around the West Bairnsdale Cricket Club they had a lot of great early memories of Sophie. “The first game she played she was so small and I just remember some of the boys helping her to put her pads on,” Therese said. Sophie, liked a handful of other West youngsters, would follow her father around when he was playing for West. The family has been with Sophie every step of the way. They have been to all the Melbourne Big Bash games this season and also made a trip to Adelaide to watch her play. Although the family are very please with her on-field efforts they are extremely proud with how she has handled herself through the whole experience. “We are very proud and happy for Sophie and it’s so great to be able to see her life passion,” Therese said. “We are also very proud of the way she conducts and handles herself and that is something that has really made us proud,” Mark said. On behalf of Sophie, Mark and Therese thanked “everyone around here that has shown their support, we are really thankful”. Bairnsdale’s only other international cricketer, Cameron White, also made his debut in India – a Test match as a leg spinner in 2008.