Part three of the Tyler Lewis series sees Melbourne's bowling all-rounder Elly Donald interviewed about her journey into the Victorian Squad.
Elly Donald is making major inroads in cricket.
Currently leading the one-day competition for wickets and making huge leaps in her development for Victoria, the sky is the limit for the talented Demon.
However, while Albert Park may be the scene of her most recent achievements, like all the stars of Victorian Premier Cricket, it began down at her local club.
Being the only female around the league at the time in her age bracket, it did have its challenges, but Donald quickly silenced the critics when she walked onto the field.
“I was always around the cricket club growing up as my dad played and was secretary at Rosebud Cricket Club,” she said.
“I was then dragged along to my brothers’ cricket when he started playing in the under-11s team which my dad was the coach of.
“I started to join in on training instead of just sitting there and then dad let me play the year after when I was (age) 8.
“For the majority of my junior cricket I was the only girl playing in the comp.
“Early on it wasn’t always easy - having to deal with the standard comments like ‘girls shouldn’t be playing cricket’ or ‘you’ll never be as good as the boys’ – all that sort of stupid stuff”.
“As I got older most teams sort of knew me and knew that I could play so then that stopped”.
“I think skills wise it helps you growing up playing against the boys as they hit the ball harder and bowled faster than girls at the same age,” Donald said.
After moving from local to Premier Cricket through junior development programs, Donald made swift waves at Melbourne, earning a senior debut in 2018/19 for Victoria.
And while it is a reward for effort, for Donald, it is also a great learning opportunity from those who have accomplished higher honours.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt from watching and being around players of their calibre is the way they go about their training,” she said.
“They know their games very well and know what they need to do to get the best out of their training in order to perform well.
“Getting to bounce questions off them and watch the way they go about training has helped me in learning about my game, which has helped me to perform more consistently compared to where I was a few years ago.
“Being able to face and bowl to the higher calibre players at training helps you learn and get better as well as being able to talk to those players who have experience at an international level, and just pick their brain about tactics and game plans,” Donald said.
As cricketers start to reach a higher level, more voices and influences creep into their lives, but despite sponging from the best in her opportunities around ultimate professionals, Donald’s most important influence still comes from home.
“I think my biggest influence would be my parents and my dad in particular,” she said.
“He is the reason I got into cricket and helped to fuel my passion from a young age.
Mum has also been really important; she helps to keep me grounded in a way and helps remind me that is just a game whenever I’m in a bad mood after a bad game or training.
“They have both always been really supportive, helping me to get as far as I have but have also always made sure that I’m still having fun and enjoying it,” Donald said.
As Australia booked its place in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final this Sunday, some of the country’s brightest talents will be eyeing off a spot in the Australian squad that travels to South Africa for the same tournament in 2022.
But for Donald, it is step-by-step at this stage, wanting to focus on performing for Victoria first.
“Being a part something like a world cup would be such an amazing experience that I’m sure all cricketers would love to be apart off,” she said.
“For me at the moment my focus is being able to perform for Victoria and take any opportunities that arises like when our Aussie contracted players are away.
“Then from that to then be able to cement my spot in the side and contribute with both bat and ball,” Donald said.