The WBBL Associate Rookie Program will provide talented players from leading ICC Associate & Affiliate Member nations an opportunity to be involved in the WBBL. Two-week placements will be offered to the most promising cricketers from Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, China, Thailand and Papua New Guinea identified from the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier tournament, which is being held in Thailand from28 November – 5 December. Placements are limited to one per WBBL club, with all eight clubs enthusiastically signing up to the optional initiative.
The program is based on the highly successful KFC T20 Big Bash League (BBL) Community Rookie Program concept, which has greatly accelerated the development of three selected rookies from Papua New Guinea in the past two years and provided flow-on benefits to their national team. The concept also helps to bring greater diversity to the clubs and league and provides opportunities to market the clubs to new fans.
Speaking about the initiative, CA’s Senior Manager of Team Performance and ICC Women’s Committee member Belinda Clark said: “As a Full Member nation Cricket Australia has a commitment to ensure the growth of cricket around the world. We are committed to developing cricket not only in our own backyard, but also internationally. The WBBL and its clubs are excited to work with the ICC to help broaden the game’s reach in non-traditional cricket markets.
“With the WBBL clubs having already secured the signatures of a number of highly credentialed Australian and international players, the Rookies will have the opportunity to train alongside and learn from the world’s best players.
“The program will also assist WBBL clubs in gauging talent of female players outside of traditional strongholds, potentially opening up a wider talent pool from which to recruit future WBBL squads.”
Speaking about the program ICC Head of Global Development Tim Anderson said: “The development of women’s cricket is fundamental to our sport’s global growth.”
“The ICC is therefore delighted to be partnering with Cricket Australia on this initiative that will not only provide a great opportunity for the best female players from our Associate and Affiliate Members, but also demonstrates the more integrated approach the international community is taking to developing cricket around the world.”
Sydney Thunder Captain Alex Blackwell, who has worked as an ICC East Asia Pacific (ICC EAP) Female Ambassador for three years, says the initiative is also a great opportunity for Australian players to learn from the Rookies.
"At the ICC EAP trophy held in Japan in 2014 I had the privilege to spend a week with Samoa, Japan, PNG, Cook Islands and Vanuatu. These nations play with such passion and with their own individual flare.
“Their players are elite athletes doing their best to be their best despite limited resources. I know all the players selected for these WBBL placements will soak up the experience and take what they learn back to help their national teams"
The rookie players will train with their WBBL club during the two-week placement and attend home matches during that period. In the event of an injury or other incident to a contracted player, WBBL clubs will be permitted to use their Rookie as a local replacement player, which would not contribute to the club’s overseas player limit.
· In advance of the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier, Associate Member countries will be required to nominate their best 2-3 players to be considered for selection.
· CA’s Women’s Youth Coach Cathryn Fitzpatrick will attend the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier to select the final players for placements.