Luke Williams, Head Coach of the SA Scorpions and WBBL Adelaide Strikers, believes that success comes down to more than an ability to hit boundaries or rattle stumps.
Williams’ second season in charge brought with it unexpected and at times unresolvable challenges, but while reflecting, the former first-class cricketer and three-time Bradman Medallist sees positives and opportunities to genuinely make a difference in the lives of those wearing the SACA emblem.
“Last season certainly presented different circumstances to my first, but I am really enjoying the role and the challenges in terms of trying to help our group get the most out of themselves and each other as we attempt to achieve team success.
“Covid-19 has of course added an extra layer of complexity. Everyone in the world is facing their own unique circumstances and challenges. Making sure we are there for our players and can assist with the off-field issues that they are facing is so important. Everyone’s wellbeing is always first and foremost. Having that wellbeing will then hopefully allow us to play our best cricket.
“What we are going through now is another layer of being able to try and help and to be a part of a program that assists people.”
In 2020, the Scorpions came within a whisper of making the WNCL Final, but a loss in a thriller at Karen Rolton Oval saw them miss the chance to take on Queensland for the title. Two games were scheduled for the final day of the regular season, with the Scorpions taking on the ACT Meteors under lights in front of a home crowd while NSW and Queensland did battle on the east coast. When the latter fixture was abandoned without a ball bowled due to torrential rain, the mission for the Scorpions was clear: Win and you’re in.
What followed was an absolute classic. Batting first, the Scorpions overcame a difficult start that saw them reduced to 4/62 to post a competitive total of 261 from 49.4 overs. Stand-in skipper Tegan McPharlin was sublime with bat in hand, scoring 62 from 68 deliveries in an inspiring knock supported by Annie O’Neil (37 from 38), Amanda-Jade Wellington (30 from 21), Eliza Doddridge (27 from 26) and Alex Price (23 from 18).
During the innings break the KRO lights came to life for the first time in a WNCL clash, creating a glow that both held the night sky at bay and sparked the ACT top order into action. The visitors first wicket didn’t fall until the scoreboard showed 131, but from then on, the fingernails of those in attendance trembled in the knowledge they stood little chance of surviving the evening.
Brooke Harris and Samantha Betts led the attack for a Scorpions side missing Megan Schutt, Tahlia McGrath and Darcie Brown to international duty, and their efforts saw the game go to the final over but unfortunately the season ended there for the Scorpions. While disappointed to have missed a golden opportunity, Williams knows that the experience will only strengthen the unit moving forward.
“Whilst we didn’t get to the destination we wanted to, we are really proud of the process that we went through last year. We had some new players come in, and they fitted in so well on and off the field and we saw some real development in several players.
“We are certainly proud of some achievements last season, but we are cognisant that we have a lot of work to do within our program to get to where we want in terms of having sustained team success.”
After a year where South Australian-based fans had no chance to see the WBBL Strikers live and only minimal opportunities to see the Scorpions, Williams is thrilled at the possibility of bringing cricket back to a passionate supporter base this season. Released last week, the coming summer’s domestic fixture holds plenty of good news for South Australian cricket, including several games at KRO and a WBBL clash in Nuriootpa.
“We are desperate to get back to our fans in South Australia. To showcase our game and to have them be a part of the experience. Last year we played in hubs, and it was great to be able to have a season, but it will be wonderful to come and play in SA with our fans supporting us. Hopefully we can get some great results in front of them.”
Testament to the strength of the Scorpions unit is the solitary change made to the list during the recent offseason. Retaining each member of the squad, Williams and his coaching staff were also able to add exciting youngster Kate Peterson, a NSW native, to the list thanks to speedster Darcie Brown’s elevation to a Cricket Australia contract. Brown’s rapid rise to the international stage, comparable with the pace of her consistently accurate deliveries, saw her take the field in New Zealand in both a T20I and an ODI in early 2021.
Peterson, still a teenager, joins the Scorpions after debuting for Sydney Thunder in WBBL|06. In 2019, at just 16 years of age, Peterson was selected in a Cricket Australia XI following a strong performance at the national under-18 championships. A promising quick with an ability to swing the ball, Peterson is spending the winter training alongside the likes of Megan Schutt and Tahlia McGrath, something Williams knows will lead to increased performance.
“Megan has played and achieved at the highest level for an extended period and combined with someone who is so passionate about SA cricket, she is such a great asset for the program itself but also individual players as they come through.
“With some growth and improvement last year, it was nice to be able to retain our list and give the group another opportunity to see where we can get to. But at the same time… the ability to recruit a young, talented and motivated player in Kate Peterson to add to the quality of our squad was really pleasing.
“She has had a great start to her preseason in the way she has been able to dive into training. Her attitude has been first class and we are hopeful of some big things from Kate for South Australia.”
Away from the game, Williams has many interests, but just one love. Something that has held him in good stead during the difficult realities that Covid-19 has forced upon the entire globe. Positives can be found in even the toughest of situations, and for Williams, the most important thing is time with his young family.
“Spending time with family is it for me. The kids are starting to play some sport. Cricket, netball, footy, soccer. I love watching them play sport and spending time with them. Especially as the preseason and season gets busier. Anytime we can spend together has been fantastic.”
The Scorpions season begins at Karen Rolton Oval on 23 September, while for the Adelaide Strikers, their WBBL season kicks off on 16 October at North Sydney Oval, taking on Sydney Thunder.
26 July 2021