Former international fast bowler Sarah Aley has returned to Cricket NSW - but after she ended her stellar professional on field career last season - it will be as a coach.
Aley debuted for the NSW Breakers in 2005 and in a distinguished playing career that saw her represent Australia in both ODI and T20 formats, the South-East Sydney product garnered a revered reputation for her whole-hearted play and knowledge of the game.
She began in the role of High Performance Coach – Female Pathway last week and will soon commence work as an assistant coach / fast bowling coach with Sydney Thunder’s reigning champion WBBL team – her arch rivals in a six year stint playing at the Sydney Sixers that ended after last season.
The newly created Pathway coaching role will see Aley tasked with leading player development across both the Metropolitan and Country Pathways. She will be the Head Coach of the U19 Metropolitan team and will work closely with the other coaches within the Pathway system to ensure NSW continues to develop the best players in Australia and around the world.
Aley has long been developing her coaching skills to ensure she had a smooth transition once she called stumps on her playing career.
Over the past few years she has fulfilled the Director of Coaching role at Bankstown Cricket Club in Women’s Premier Cricket, was last year a playing Assistant Coach for the Sixers during the WBBL and earlier this year was part of the first intake of coaches in the Female Coaching Internship at Cricket NSW.
Aley said the eight months since her retirement had felt like a long time and she was grateful for the opportunity to return her focus to her first love.
“I’m really excited actually getting into this new role,” Aley said.
“In the lead up to starting it felt like the right time to move back into cricket, even though I was not out of it for that long.
“Seeing the large scope of work in front of us is exciting. It’s a big job. We want to change how our pathway system is run and make sure young girls in NSW are ready to perform on the big stage when they get a contract.
“It’s a privileged position being able to guide the next generation of Breakers, Sixers and Thunder players.”
The latter of which Aley said tongue in cheek, ‘may cause some challenges’ given her storied Sixers career that produced two WBBL titles and 89 wickets – fourth all-time in the tournament’s history.
“I’m sure I’ll have to have some magenta undies on when the Thunder play the Sixers,” she said with a laugh.
“In all seriousness, while it would have been great to stay with the Sixers because of my history there – and I think everyone knows how passionate and loyal I am to teams I’ve played for - I had to look at the bigger picture of my career in coaching as opposed to my career playing.
“There is a wonderful opportunity at the Thunder for me to take on a fast bowling coach role – something I’ve always thought I’d do and something the Thunder didn’t have.
“Looking at Thunder’s list and bowlers, there’s some good experience there and exciting times with younger players like Hannah Darlington and Kate Peterson. I’m really look forward to working with Hannah to back up her amazing season last year.
“The Thunder are successful club and they are pretty keen on getting back to back championships. Hopefully I can help with the experience I gained from my playing career, defending titles and always trying to improve with added pressure, alongside the skill and tactical elements of my job.”
CNSW Pathway Manager Nic Bills said Aley’s well renowned commitment on the field transferred across to her coaching aspirations.
“Sarah’s knowledge and passion for the game combined with a desire to develop highly skilled players and provide them with opportunities to become future Breakers, Sixers or Thunder players shone through during the interview process,” Bills said.
“She has also completed the Cricket Australia High Performance Coaching Accreditation and will be a great addition to the Pathway coaching team and supporting Trevor Griffin at the Thunder.
“Sarah is now the second coach from CNSW’s innovative Female Coaching Internship program to progress to a full-time role within our system. The program is clearly having an impact and we are excited with what we can achieve in this space in the years ahead.”