Women’s cricket is being given a healthy boost by a bayside inspiration who dominates the female league and empowers young female players.
Hannah Bailes, 23, has outclassed the senior women’s league for the past three years while playing for Kingston Heath Cricket Club (KHCC), who accepted her into the boys’ team at age seven.
“I was the only girl in the entire competition,” she said. “Now, we have two senior women’s teams – the first time in the club’s history.”
Remaining loyal to KHCC after a stint at Melbourne Cricket Club, Hannah now dedicates herself to giving back to her local club, as well as coaching a junior girls’ side.
Her appreciation of the grassroots club is clear, reminding the younger players that gender inequality in the sport was prolific during her early playing years.
“They are so lucky to have these many opportunities playing against girls their own age, size and ability, and they feel very fortunate now that so many people put so much effort into coming up with this competition.”
Hannah didn’t play in an all-female competition until the age of fourteen when she filled in one weekend for the KHCC senior women’s team.
“(The girls) always ask me what it was like when I was playing junior cricket and I tell them how lucky they are that they get to play against girls and not boys.”
Since playing at KHCC, Hannah’s achievements have earned her the 2018/19 Club Champion award, as well as top batting and bowling prizes since her return in 2016.
Holly, a junior cricketer at KHCC, credits Hannah’s coaching style and dedication with her own development in the sport.
“Hannah wasn’t my first coach but when I started playing for her, my skills really developed and she made me want to play.”
Despite the efforts of Hannah and other club members to encourage girls taking up cricket, they are at risk of losing players due to commitment and age.
“We are losing a lot because they’re too old for the U16 team now, so it’s just a matter of getting another two teams up, which I don’t think we will.”
The club’s efforts include multiple social events organised by Hannah, including Pink Stumps Day which turns a regular fixture match into a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.
“This club gave me so much support and help, and they’re such a great family club that I just want to give back.”