In July of this year, a video of a young left-hander who produced a flawless series of attacks on the nets at Cricket NSW became viral in the social media.
And on Friday night, she took these shots off the nets in the middle of North Sydney Oval and produced one of the most memorable debuts in the history of the Rebel WBBL, when she outlasted all but one of her Sydney Thunder teammates.
Some pretty good shots here.— NSW Breakers (@NSWBreakers) July 9, 2019
Introducing Phoebe Litchfield. pic.twitter.com/IR1umhErky
It takes a rare talent to get a ramp shot of just 10 deliveries in your big-bash career, and Litchfield could hardly have gone in the middle of a tough situation.
After a strike of 193, the Thunder was already in the dungeon with 3: 25 against the Australian Vice-captain Rachael Haynes, the New Zealander Rachel Priest and the great Naomi Stalenberg.
On the other end, a first-class Sixers attack with Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner, and Marizanne Kapp sped toward me.
Litchfield had already made some sporting parades on the border during the Sixers’ innings, and when she was nervous, it did not turn out when the 10th-grade student put together a well-balanced image with the bat far beyond her years.
The first delivery she faced seemed almost too casual, blocking a delivery of the fiery South African Kapp. After finding the limit after the ninth ball she faced, Litchfield expertly placed the next four. After that, she went over for a third of it.
It is some age gap between the two batters in the middle ! Well played Phoebe on debut. Another cracking kid from country nsw. It was an enjoyable 50+ run partnership. @SixersWBBL too good for us tonight. We get a chance to turn things around on Sunday 2pm v The Heat #WBBL05 https://t.co/NAnon0m7GA— Alex Blackwell (@AlexBlackwell2) October 18, 2019
Litchfield shared a club record with 68 runs in the fourth wicket 22 with veteran Alex Blackwell, who had already made her Australian debut before the birth of his younger team-mate.
Only Blackwell scored more runs in Thunder’s unsuccessful chase, which ended 49 runs behind his goal of 9-143.
“I’m just happy to be out there, it was so much fun,” Litchfield said in Channel 7 coverage. “It’s so strange to watch the last year (the Thunder players) and be out there with them now.
“(Blackwell) is so calm and laid back and she has so much experience, she made the beating easy and it makes a difference to have a quiet head out there. “And from this ramp: “There was nobody there … it’s my first choice when I’m looking for a place to score.”
The crowd in the North Sydney Oval has beefed up their innings on Friday and their Thunder teammates were not the only ones who were impressed.
“It’s really impressive to see such a class of a 16-year-old,” said Sixers wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy. “That’s what’s so great about this competition, that these girls get opportunities.”
The resume of the left-handed man in the game on Friday already made for an impressive reading. The innings on Friday proved that she can handle adults too.
Orange from New South Wales, Litchfield played in January as an underage player for Cricket Australia XI at the U18 Women’s Championship.
She was part of the Governor-General’s XI, which played against the White Ferns in February, before going on tour with the Australian U19 players in New Zealand a month later. She was also compared by national coach Shelley Nitschke with Australian kicker Nicole Bolton.
Cricket is not her only talent. Litchfield is also a member of the Australian U16 ice hockey team. With such credentials, it was no surprise that she was selected by the great Australian and Fox cricketer Mel Jones before the game on Friday as a player.
“I’m used to seeing YouTube clips of young guns coming in from India, five- and six-year-olds have smashed the ball everywhere, that’s changed now,” Jones told cricket.com.au.