One of these houses, sitting just outside downtown Adelaide, is home to two cricketers with a story that weaves across the country, at times in tandem and at times independently, but is always enthralling and inspiring.
Jemma Barsby and Josie Dooley were both plying their trade for the Queensland Fire when the pandemic hit, but since then they have both made the huge decision to relocate to Adelaide, taking up opportunities with the Statewide Super SA Scorpions.
The two exciting talents are living together in their newly adopted state, something that has made the transition a little easier for both. Despite on the surface undertaking the change of scenery for different reasons, it is clear that at its heart, the move comes back to getting the most out of their on-field performances.
For Dooley, still just 21 years of age, a major component is the chance to further her game. A classy wicket-keeper with a booming bat, Dooley has big plans for her time with the Scorpions.
“Opportunity was a big factor. I want to get behind the stumps and bat up the order. Hopefully I can contribute up the top. Luke [Coach Luke Williams] has been really good in giving me the opportunity and a sense of freedom, so now it is about repaying that and trying to anchor our innings a bit to set a foundation for the back end.
You put pressure on yourself in wanting to perform and do the best you can for the team, especially as a new player. Hopefully I can contribute to some wins.”
Despite turning just 25 during her most recent birthday celebration, Barsby has already experienced plenty on and off the cricketing field. Radiating positivity and energy, the lure of something new clearly motivates the allrounder.
“I was in Queensland for nine years and I got the opportunity to come down and start fresh which has been brilliant. It’s such an exciting list – there is a real mix of experience levels, so we are able to learn and feed off that. I am just trying to bring what I’ve learnt over the years and hopefully that shows out on the park.”
Making the journey south mid-2020, the two have undergone one of the longest pre-seasons imaginable, with the Scorpions not playing their first fixture of the season until 5 February, a year to the date since their previous game.
The gruelling pre-season was paused only for WBBL|06, an equally challenging tournament held in strict bubble conditions in New South Wales. Barsby switched Scorpions colours for Perth Scorchers orange during the tournament, while Dooley remained in red as she joined the Melbourne Renegades.
The WBBL is something that, in addition to encouraging movement of players between state sides, has allowed new relationships to be formed away from the game, something that makes settling into a new team much easier than it used to be.
It is clear when both speak however, that one of the key factors in making the move a successful one, is a genuine love of South Australia. Dooley laughs when she says that before making the decision to shift her life south, she had only been to Adelaide once or twice. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for her to realise it was a great call.
“Adelaide is such an easy place to live. Everything is so close. The girls say they don’t want to go somewhere because it’s 20 minutes away and I’m just like, what? That’s nothing! People are just so nice here; it has a big country town kind of feel. I’m absolutely loving it.
My parents came down and we did the coastline and checked out some beaches down south. I just kept thinking it doesn’t even look like Australia; with the beaches and the cliffs, you could be anywhere in the world. It is unbelievable.”
For Barsby, the feeling is mutual when it comes to the beauty of Adelaide and its surrounds, but as a coffee-lover, she has also been delighted with how everything has worked out off-field so far.
“I love coffee. I’m working in a café at the moment which is great to get away from cricket and have a laugh with customers. They have been so accommodating with my schedule, so I have been really lucky with all of that.
We’re so close to the beaches which we are absolutely loving. It’s just been so much fun. It’s a breath of fresh air to come to a new state and be able to start again and be in a group that has been so welcoming.”
On-field, Barsby and Dooley have now turned their attention to their next fixture, a huge matchup against their old side, Queensland Fire, at Allan Border Field. Both have played in the Scorpions season-opening games, and both are in the 13-player squad heading to Brisbane. With so much on the line in a short season, the clash is an important one for many reasons, not least of which for Barsby and Dooley, who will be wanting to perform well against their old teammates.
With a week that has included training with the Scorpions as well as training with local side Northern Districts and working behind the coffee machine, Barsby has been able to keep thoughts of the contest at bay for now.
“Thankfully I have been super busy this week, so I haven’t really had time to think about it. There’s plenty of excitement and a few nerves wanting to perform well against them. There’s a real belief in the team that we can win so we’ll just get up to Brisbane and give it everything this weekend.”
A flying visit back to Queensland is something Dooley is very much looking forward to, especially the chance to play at her recent stomping ground.
“I love Allan Border Field. It’s going to be a bit weird going into the opposition changerooms, but it’s one of my favourite places to play cricket. I’ll have the family there too, so it will feel pretty similar, just in different colours against players I have played with a lot.
I’ve faced them so many times in training on that pitch [Queensland bowlers] and so I am just really looking forward to it and hopefully that can kick-start me for this season. I haven’t had any banter from the girls just yet, but I’m sure it will come.”
There are limitless layers to the newest additions to the Scorpions family. Dooley, having already begun a business degree, is now also turning her attention to a digital media degree while in Adelaide. Her joy in creating content is something that drove her to make a series of videos during last year’s lockdown called the World Isolation Games.
“I love filmmaking and videography and so far, I’ve just done it as a bit of a passion. I want to see what it could open up for the future. When I started the Isolation Games, I would think of the idea the night before, film it and then edit it all in a day. It was just out of boredom really, but it helped me find a routine.”
On the other hand, in a very literal sense, Barsby is ambidextrous, able to send down deliveries both right and left-handed, something she has been working on more since joining the ranks of South Australian cricket.
“I put it away for a while but since getting down here, I’ve worked on it a little more. It’s just about getting the trust in my lefties, so if I get them a little more consistent then I might be able to roll them out at some stage. It’s a different dimension to my game. It means a lot of extra time and effort but that’s all something that will hopefully pay off.”
Hard work and commitment are things that Barsby and Dooley are no strangers to, and anyone who has spoken to them for even just a moment will be left in no doubt that their southern move is sure to be a successful one.
The Statewide Super SA Scorpions face off against Queensland Fire from 10.30am ACDT on Saturday 20 February.
19 February 2021