This article was first written for and published by the Roar.
There have been times over the last 12 months when Maisy Gibson considered retirement from domestic cricket. Late last year, just ahead of WBBL 06, the Hobart Hurricanes leg-spinner injured her ACL for the third time and required another knee reconstruction.
“When I first found out that I had torn my ACL for the third time, I wondered whether to even bother with the surgery or just call it quits. That’s where I was at physically and emotionally,” said Gibson.
“The news itself was what impacted me the most, given that it was such an innocuous slip which led to such a significant injury.”
But, ultimately Gibson missed her cricket and decided that if she was going to return, she was going to give it everything she had. And that’s precisely what she did.
“I didn’t want to regret not giving it a go so whatever happens this season, I know I have given it 100 per cent.
“I have missed cricket so much over the last 12 months, so I am really happy that I have stuck with it.
“There are still things weighing on my mind though given that this injury has happened three times already, I wonder whether it will happen again. The what ifs are hard, but once I have played that first game I will be fine.”
With the seventh edition of the WBBL commencing tonight, it is still unclear whether Gibson will be fully fit for the Hurricanes’ first game of the season against the Melbourne Renegades on Saturday at Blundstone Arena. But the leg spinner is expected to make her return imminently.
This will be Gibson’s third season with the Hobart Hurricanes. Gibson has been part of the squad during a period of tremendous transformation. Many players, including the likes of Gibson, Belinda Vakarewa, Nicola Carey and Naomi Stalenberg have relocated to Tasmania for more opportunity to play consistent cricket.
Several players have benefitted from this increased opportunity too, particularly the likes of Vakarewa, who was named WBBL 05 Player of the Year for the Hurricanes after taking 20 wickets at an average of 15.80, the third-best figures in the competition.
The transformation of the Hurricanes has continued again this year.
Over the WBBL off-season there was plenty of movement between the squads with several key players making the decision to switch clubs. The Hurricanes have benefitted from these movements with several new faces in their team including Molly Strano, Mignon du Preez, Rachel Trenaman and Richa Ghosh.
The Hurricanes have missed the finals for the last four years. During the last couple of season of WBBL, the Hurricanes have been close, but not quite good enough to beat the top teams in the competition.
But given the players joining the club this season, this may be the year that their fortunes change.
Players like du Preez and Strano have represented their countries at the highest level and will provide additional leadership to the team, alongside players like Tayla Vlaeminck, who will make a big impact for the Hurricanes after missing last season due to injury.
Additionally, the likes of du Preez and Ghosh will bolster Hobart’s batting attack. Last year, Rachel Priest was the only Hurricanes player to average more than 18 runs across the entire season. In order to make the top four, there will need to be more contributors with the bat and du Preez and Ghosh are in a great position to do so alongside other members of the Hurricanes line-up like Carey and Stalenberg.
Gibson is confident that the Hurricanes have a list which can challenge the title for this year.
“Our main goal is to win the title and we have the group to do that.
“In particular, our internationals are the types of players that we hope will bring their experience and expertise to our squad.
“Last year was hard because of the COVID bubble, so having a bit more freedom this season will help. If we can keep on top of the COVID situation, it’s going to be an exciting battle between all the teams.”
Last year all the WBBL teams were based in a hub in Sydney and played all their cricket behind closed doors.
An added advantage for the Hurricanes this year is that the tournament is beginning in Hobart, giving the Hurricanes the chance to play in front of their home crowd.
“We’ve seen plenty of sport moved down to Tassie and it’s been so good to see people flocking to Blundstone Arena.
“Hopefully we can get off to a flyer playing at home and take that momentum going forward and go all the way.”