Patience pays off for determined Aley
July 05, 2017
So close for so long, the veteran NSW fast bowler finally earns her international debut in Australia's Women's World Cup clash with Pakistan
Thirty-three years, one month and two days.
Twelve years, eight months and five days.
That's how long Sarah Aley has been waiting – since she was born and since her domestic debut for New South Wales, respectively – to be handed an Australian one-day international cap.
That moment came, finally, in Leicester on Wednesay morning UK time, when former Australia captain Margaret Jennings presented fast bowler Aley with ODI cap No.136 ahead of the country's Women's World Cup clash against Pakistan.
In doing so, Aley came the third-oldest woman to make her ODI debut for Australia, behind Miriam Knee (35 years and 155 days) and Elaine Bray (33 years and 93 days).
But to put Aley's breakthrough into perspective, both Knee and Bray's maiden ODIs came in the same match, played against a 'young England' team in the 1973 World Cup.
In what was the first official women's ODI.
No other woman has waited – and she has waited patiently, it must be said – on the sidelines longer than Aley for an opportunity to play a one-dayer for Australia.
Wednesday's moment was one many, including Aley, had started to think might never come, with the fast bowler having come agonisingly close to an international debut time and time again throughout her domestic career, only to be overlooked.
The most recent of those occasions came in January, when Aley was included in Australia's T20 squad to play New Zealand without playing a match.
But with Australia searching for fast-bowling options for their World Cup campaign, selectors couldn't go past Aley's outstanding 2016-17 summer and her sheer experience.
As one of the most popular players in Australian domestic cricket, there will be no shortage of people lining up to congratulate Aley today.
"It's a credit to her," former Australia allrounder Lisa Sthalekar said on cricket.com.au's Unplayable Podcast last month.
"Twelve months ago she was thinking about retiring from one-day cricket.
"She came to India (for the 2013 World Cup) because she was one of only a couple of people who I had told I was going to retire after the tournament, so she made the trip.
"Now I get to see her play in her first World Cup, so it's going to be surreal to see her out there."
Australian vice-captain Alex Blackwell believes Aley's story will be a reminder to domestic players around the country that it's never too late to break into the national team.
"It shows what is possible," Blackwell said.
"It sets a great example for everyone at home in domestic cricket that take if you take your opportunities in that competition, you just don't know where you could end up.
"She's a great team person and no matter how many games she plays, she'll play a big role in our success."
Women's World Cup Guide
Australia World Cup squad: Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell (vc), Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning (c), Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.