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Alex Blackwell and Michael Hussey provide Sydney Thunder with rare respect

Key player: Sydney Thunder recruit Alex Blackwell in the Thunder strip. Photo: SuppliedSydney Thunder’s chief executive Nick Cummins said the Twenty20 franchises boasted two of Australian cricket’s most respected figures, Alex Blackwell joining Mike Hussey to spearhead their two teams.

Blackwell was unveiled as the latest recruit for the Thunder’s Women’s Big Bash League team and Cummins described it as a coup, saying the leadership the pair provided was a “great development”.

“To have Alex and Mike as our two leaders is an excellent situation,” he said. “We’ll expect Alex to lead the club on and off the field and one of the roles she’s already been a key figure in is recruiting payers to ensure we’ll establish a foundation of success from WBBL01.

“We want to see that level of professionalism in the women’s Thunder, just as Mike has brought that level of professionalism. We thought Alex was a great way to start.”

Blackwell, who wants to help Australia win the women’s Ashes back from England, prepared for the series by playing domestic cricket for Berkshire. However, she was thrilled to be a member of the Thunder and said the WBBL represented a new chapter for women’s cricket in Australia.

“It’s an exciting time for us to be a part of something new and the competition keeps women’s cricket moving forward,” she said.

Blackwell said it was crucial the Australians won the Ashes to maintain the momentum in women’s cricket.

“The profile of the Australian women’s team is increasing all the time, what’s most important for us is to perform well,” she said. “We’ve lost the Ashes first two times we’ve played this multi format series [points are awarded for limited overs matches, the one Test and three T20’s] and we’re focused on getting it right.

“We’re very evenly matched and have been for a number of years. We’ve had the edge over England in the limited over format but in terms of our recent Test match they took all six points that were on offer during the last series at the WACA and that hurt us, we couldn’t climb back from that loss despite winning four out of the next six games.”

Blackwell admitted she took plenty of heart by the way all of Australia threw its support behind the Matildas as they made the quarter-finals of the recent women’s football World Cup.

“It was awesome following the Matildas, it made me proud to see how they performed and they represented Australia with pride and joy,” she said.”To be the best performed team for Australia, male or female, was tremendous; they’re really setting the standard.”

The Women’s Ashes begins in Taunton on Tuesday with the first of three one-day internationals, but the Australians opened the campaign with a 99-run loss to a (male) academy team in Hampshire. Blackwell made 54 and her captain Meg Lanning scored 59 in their team’s 8/245

Australian squad: Meg Lanning (c), Alex Blackwell (vc), Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Rene Farrell, Holly Ferling, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani.

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