The last year had been full of retirements and most of the greats like Ponting, Laxman, Dravid etc. did not have fairy tale endings to their careers. However, the first retirement of the year 2013, the one of veteran Lisa Sthalekar was as perfect an ending to a career as it could’ve been. Indian-born Sthalekar, who has been one of the key players for the Southern Stars, called it a day after she helped her team win the coveted Women’s World Cup for the sixth time. Wrapping up her career in the country where she was born made it all the more special for the campaigner.
She began playing cricket as a backyard sport, which was introduced to her by her father in Sydney. Starting off playing with boys, she saw women’s cricket when she attended a Test match between Australia and England. She gradually joined the Gordon club to give cricket a serious go. Sthalekar made her debut for NSW in 1997-98. She started off as a bowler and a lower-order batter, but eventually groomed herself to be a handy batter and an adept all-rounder.
All of Sthalekar’s performances at domestic level led to her ODI call-up in 2001 to tour England. This was her chance to prove herself on the big stage. She made her debut in Derby as a specialist off-spin bowler. In her first game, she took 2/25 from 8 overs to help Australia to a 99-run victory. Following the series, Sthalekar was part of the NSW women’s team that won the WNCL (Women’s National Cricket League) for the sixth time in 2001-2002.
Sthalekar then made her debut against England at Brisbane for a 2-match series. It was then that Sthalekar was given the duty of opening the batting with Belinda Clark. She began working on her batting and making useful contributions for NSW. In the Women’s World Cup in 2005, Sthalekar finished with 165 runs at a brilliant average of 41.25, and 7 wickets at 22.28.
Sthalekar was then a part of Australia’s first Twenty 20 international in Taunton and the second match since the inception of the format. She retires as the number one all-rounder in T20s. She also holds the second position in the ranking for ODI all-rounders. She is also the only woman to score 1000 runs and take 100 wickets in ODIs.
Sthalekar has been a part of 8 Tests and has scored 416 runs; 2728 runs in 125 ODIs and 769 runs in 54 T20Is. Her bowling stats boast much of her ability as an all-rounder; she has 23 Test scalps, 146 ODI wickets and 60 in T20s. She was a part of two World T20 wins – 2010 and 2012. Her decision to retire after all that she has been a part of was emotional, but she had a fairytale end to an illustrious career.
“To finish my international career by playing in a successful ICC Women’s World Cup in the country of my birth is quite special for me,” Sthalekar said.
“I feel that this is the right time for me to retire. Women’s cricket has changed a lot during my time in the game and it’s been an honour to witness this evolution first hand. We have seen at this year’s World Cup that the standard of women’s cricket across the world has grown immensely in the last few years alone.”Published 23 Feb 2013, 23:45 IST