Sydney Thunder has appointed 19-year-old sensation Hannah Darlington as the side’s new WBBL skipper, after Rachael Haynes announced her withdrawal from the squad on Wednesday.
Haynes originally planned to take parental leave at the beginning of the season, as she and her partner Leah Poulton welcomed their son Hugo into the world on October 2.
Watch every game of the Weber WBBL Live & On-Demand on Kayo or catch up for FREE with minis on Kayo Freebies. Join Kayo Now >
But with the Thunder set to play on the road for the entirety of the 2021 season due to changing border restrictions across Australia, Haynes was left with little alternative but to declare herself unavailable.
Darlington, who signed with the Thunder as a fresh-faced 15-year-old, couldn’t be more gracious for the massive opportunity that awaits as she becomes the youngest captain in WBBL history.
“It’s a huge honour,” Darlington said.
“I’ve been a part of this club for nearly five years now, and supported it all the way through.
“To have this opportunity to step in for Rach, who’s been a massive influence on definitely my leadership style and a lot of this group, is pretty special and I’m ready to lead a team I’m passionate about and really proud to be a part of.”
Despite her young age, this isn’t Darlington’s first rodeo as a captain of a senior cricket team.
The Western Sydney native stepped up to the plate and skippered the NSW Breakers in a Women’s National Cricket League match against Tasmania in February this year.
Captaining the Breakers made Darlington the youngest-ever skipper in the history of NSW’s senior cricket teams, and the 19-year-old believes the experience gained will be crucial for the upcoming WBBL season.
“It was actually an amazing experience to captain the Breakers,” Darlington said. “It was another dream come true.”
“I also had Rach and a couple of other leadership group players out there with me.
“I definitely learned a lot during that experience, just knowing that I’m willing to make those decisions and lead from the front.
“It definitely was a big learning curve, but it’s prepared me quite well to take on the reins.”
Darlington’s appointment as captain of the Thunder is the cherry on top of what has already been a fantastic year for the teen.
She made her Australian ODI debut against India in September and made her T20 debut for the nation against the same opponents on October 7.
Darlington will lead the Thunder for the first time when it takes on the Adelaide Strikers on Saturday, as the Sydney side looks to win back-to-back championships.