Queensland Country Life

Celebrating local sports heroes: Stories of local community cricket

Goolwa Cricket Club on Ngarrindjeri Country receive a $15,000 cricket grant to help boost the community club. Photo supplied.
Goolwa Cricket Club on Ngarrindjeri Country receive a $15,000 cricket grant to help boost the community club. Photo supplied.
Celebrating local sports heroes: Stories of local community cricket
Celebrating local sports heroes: Stories of local community cricket

Community cricket is the backbone of Australian sporting spirit, providing endless hours of fun during the summer season.

Having offered Australians over 200 years of entertainment on both national and local levels, it is no wonder that cricket offers some of the best sporting heroes in history.

These heroes go beyond just the players.

Those who volunteer their time and effort from the community to keep the practice going and matches available are just as integral to the sport.

Essence of community cricket in Queensland

Home to the famous Gabba stadium, Queensland's passion for cricket is undeniable.

On the national scale, this is seen in the prominence of national teams such as Brisbane Heat and the Queensland Bulls.

Both teams have their fair share of dedicated fans across the state and even nationally as they take on big-name competitors in their home field of the Gabba and beyond.

However, the spirit of cricket is just as prominent at the community level.

Local talent is cherished and fostered across the state in various capabilities. Nowhere is this seen better than the efforts of the rural youth star, Courtney Sippel.

At just 17 years of age, Sippel burst out of the rural cricket scene of Murgon, home to barely 2,000 residents, to join the professional league of women's cricket.

This young athlete is an excellent example of how community cricket, even in the most rural areas, goes above and beyond to foster local talent within Queensland.

Role of support and funding

Local cricket talent cannot be found or nurtured without the right environment.

Support and funding play a fundamental role in achieving this at the local level, with residents often volunteering their services to keep practices and games running smoothly.

Local businesses even chip in by offering sponsorships or partnerships to these cricket clubs, providing the opportunity to buy necessary equipment and maintain facility upkeep.

However, having institutional support is incredibly beneficial to the foundation of these programs.

This can be seen by NRMA Insurance's support of community cricket through their Community Cricket Club Grants Program (Cricket Grants).

The Cricket Grants will see eight local cricket clubs provided with a significant fund to utilise as needed for the growth and success of their community.

Whether this involves buying better equipment, updating facilities, or creating all-new, inclusive and diverse programs.

In the initial year of this grant, NRMA Insurance provided $15,000 in funds to four fortunate clubs across the country.

These funds have since been used to develop club culture, including creating programs for juniors, women, and all-ability players.

With this kind of support, many players can receive the opportunity to play at a level that may not have been possible otherwise.

Importance of building inclusive and diverse cricket programs

Courtney Sippel represents the importance of building inclusive and diverse cricket programs within Australia.

Without these kinds of grassroots programs, it would be near-impossible for women's cricket to have created such an empowering presence within the Australian sporting world.

After all, change is often created from the ground up, with the pathway to success built by the opportunities and support granted by people around us.

Cricket Australia has recognised this need, offering multiple nationwide programs for inclusivity and diversity.

Their initiatives cover key areas such as:

  • Women and girls.
  • Multiculturalism.
  • LGBTQ+.
  • People with disabilities.

The programs created by Cricket Australia have successfully raised participation within these key groups.

This is done by creating environments that welcome diverse participants and ensure that local clubs meet their unique needs.

By improving inclusivity within local clubs, more Australians can feel comfortable being their authentic selves in the cricketing world.

Jessica Jonassen

When it comes to local sports heroes, Jessica (Jess) Jonassen stands out as an admirable success story.

The left-arm orthodox bowler grew up in the rural town of Emerald, found in the central highlands region of Queensland.

Her cricketing career began as young as ten years old, with Jonassen joining the local club and school's boy teams due to the lack of girl teams.

From these humble beginnings, Jonassen has become a big name in national cricket.

She is now the current captain of the Queensland Fire in the Women's National Cricket League (WNCL) and Brisbane Heat in the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL).

Jonassen's prowess has also been recognised in her four wins in the ICC T20 World Cup through the national women's team.

She is also the fourth woman to have taken 100 one day international wickets for Australia, making her an idol for many young cricketers.

Matt Renshaw

Matt Renshaw is an internationally-recognised hero in the cricket world, having played eleven tests for Australia between 2016 and 2018 as an opening batsman.

While not Australian-born, Renshaw grew up in Australia from age ten.

He has made a splash in the domestic cricketing scene since scoring his maiden first-class century in 2015 at nineteen years of age.

This cricketing success has continued across multiple teams on various competitive levels.

Some highlights include:

  • Being named by Cricket Australia in their Sheffield Shield team of the year after making 686 runs.
  • Making a record batting score for Brisbane senior cricket with a whopping 345 runs in one game.
  • Getting signed onto the Brisbane Heat and Adelaide Strikers within the Big Bash League.
  • Becoming the first Australian cricketer to score 500 test runs before turning 21 years of age, and the greatest number of test runs within that age bracket at 524.

At only 27 years of age, Renshaw still has a promising cricketing career to look forward to and draw inspiration from.

Grace Harris

Grace Harris is an all-rounder in cricket and a foundational member of the national women's side since 2015 at 22 years of age.

Currently playing for Queensland Fire in the WNCL and Brisbane Heat in the WBBL, Harris shows nothing but dedication and raw skills in her illustrious career.

Young Australians across the country can draw inspiration from her consistency, having played in a professional team every year since her debut.

This includes the international league in 2022, wherein she was picked to join Australia's A squad for their series against England A.

She was also picked to represent Australia in the cricket tournament at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, with Australia proudly coming out on top.

James Bazley

Hailing from the Queensland coastline, James Bazley was recognised as an up-and-coming talent in the cricket world by the time he turned 19 years of age.

The all-rounder was selected to represent Australia's good name in the 2014 Under 19 World Cup, showcasing his promising future as a batsman and bowler.

Bazley has played professionally since, often representing his home area of the Sunshine Coast in grade cricket.

He has also been drafted to play for Brisbane Heat multiple times, specifically for the Big Bash League in 2020/21.

However, he has also been assigned as a key player on the Queensland state team over the years, representing his local hometown of Buderim on the national stage.

As of 2023, Bazley signed a multi-year deal with the Adelaide Strikers, showcasing that his professional career is still going strong.

His ability to play across multiple levels of cricket indicates to cricket hopefuls that no progression is linear and that your hard work will always be recognised in due time.

Future of community cricket in Queensland

Community Cricket in Queensland has undergone numerous changes in the past few years.

Namely, the sport has opened up and accepted a more diverse and inclusive culture, following in the footsteps of institutions like Cricket Australia and NRMA Insurance.

It is expected that this inclusivity will continue to grow in the future.

More women and girls are expected to join the cricket scene, leading to greater engagement by the public with women's sports.

On top of that, the initiatives by Cricket Australia to generate more multiculturalism and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and disabled Australians are looking to generate change.

Celebrating local heroes in any sport is vital for the foundation of community cricket, especially in Queensland.

The state offers a significant range of male and female professional heroes, indicating that the future of cricket is bright and diverse.

Supporting these kinds of dedicated individuals starts at the grassroots level.

Be sure to look within your community to see how you and others can uplift the future generation of cricket in Australia.