For 10 years now, Sam Betts has been flying the flag for Broken Hill in the top tier of Australian domestic cricket.
Contracted to the South Australian Scorpions in the Women’s National Cricket League [WNCL] since her final year of high school, Sam has played at all levels of domestic cricket in Australia.
Making her debut for the Scorpions at the tender age of just 16, Sam is celebrating her tenth season playing for South Australia.
At just 26 she is considered a seasoned veteran amongst her teammates. A long way away from the high school kid who was mixing it with the boys at the West Broken Hill Cricket Club.
“I think I was really fortunate as a kid, with the boys in Broken Hill in my year at school, going through the ranks with them I just felt like one of the boys. They had my back and to me it didn’t really feel any different,” Sam says.
Those days of having a hit with her mates would end rather abruptly as Sam was contracted to the SA Scorpions and made her debut in 2012, spending her final year at Broken Hill High School commuting between home and Adelaide, juggling school and cricket responsibilities.
“Once again, I was very fortunate to have supportive teachers and parents that allowed me to miss a day of school every week to go down [to Adelaide] and train and play on the weekends.”
Sam’s dedication to her craft paid off in spades. Just a couple of years later, in 2016, she was the recipient of the Adam Gilchrist Cricket Scholarship. The prize, awarded to the best under-21 female cricketer from rural Australia, funded a six-month stint with English County side, Hampshire. It was an opportunity she would grasp with both hands and Sam would end up playing three seasons for The Pathways.
“That was unreal. One thing that blew me away and gave me flashbacks to growing up in Broken Hill, was how cricket mad everyone was.”
“I formed some friendships too. I keep in touch with some of the Hampshire girls still now, see how they’re going and try to catch up with them. Some of them have come over here to Australia, then when I have gone back there [to the UK] its always really exciting to see them.”
We asked Sam for the biggest difference between the English county scene and the Aussie cricket scene, and she says it was the banter in England that was the biggest difference. “I love the banter, and in England it was actually a lot more savage,” Sam laughed.
Back on home soil, Sam has had equal shares of heartbreak and glory on the cricket pitch. In the 2015/16 season she was a part of the SA Scorpions side that broke the New South Wales stranglehold on the WNCL, and just last season she was a part of the Perth Scorchers side that lifted the Women’s Big Bash League [WBBL] title.
“It was a roller coaster of a season, you know, being in and out of the team and struggling a bit with my own form. The thing that I love the most about the Scorchers group is all 14 contracted players are a massive part of the team.
The culture at the club means even when you are out of the team, you are just as big of a part of it as Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney who were scoring runs for fun [last season].”
“It was a wonderful experience,” Sam told us of the title winning season.
It hasn’t been all glory, however. Last season Sam and her Scorpions teammates lost the WNCL final to Tasmania. Something that Sam believes can spur the squad on to go one better this season.
“Obviously it sucks to lose a final, but it can be the biggest motivator. It’s an experience that we can draw on for the next final, something that can help us be prepared and hopefully go one better.”
Now a senior member of the Scorpions squad, despite being just 26, Sam is looking to pass on her experience to the younger members of the squad.
“I have been rocking a Scorps shirt for 10 years now. I am looking to help the younger members of the squad and looking to leave the next generation in good hands.
“I am excited to lead these girls and have a bit more influence on the culture around the place is something I am quite passionate about.”
Although she doesn’t make it home as often as she would like, Sam will be returning to Broken Hill this November to join in West Broken Hill Cricket Clubs 100-year anniversary celebrations.
“I made sure I bought myself a ticket for that. I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait to celebrate the club that led me to where I am today.”
Sam Betts and the South Australian Scorpions WNCL season is underway and runs through the entirety of the summer, with the final taking place on February 23.