All-rounder Jess Jonassen on the Ashes tour, paving the way for future female cricketers and the importance of education as a fallback plan. By Richard Cooke.


All-round success: Jess Jonassen, 25, cricketer

This Ashes series didn’t feel too different for me. The tour was a quite lengthy one, obviously with the three formats. It takes its toll on you. It shows the best team at the end of it, who can be the most consistent with all three formats. 

We will never forget the Southern Stars. The meaning of that, with everybody … all the players that came before us. But being known as the Australian women’s cricket team – that’s a huge positive. 

It was something that came about before we started our World Cup campaign. All the women that’ve been part of the Southern Stars team, now and in the past, are all very supportive of the shift.

Format changes are tough. We play a lot of cricket, so we are quite used to having to change, and I think when I first started playing domestic cricket, we used to have to change formats overnight. It’s difficult, but at the same time, everyone’s in the same boat.

We only really play a Test match every couple of years. Working out how to approach that and how differently, if at all, we need to approach it, is good. We were fortunate enough to retain the Ashes.

Adapting my batting is the hardest for me. The gear changes and everything across the three formats is quite different, and depending on what part of the game and what situation you come in under, it almost dictates how you need to bat.

I’m someone who likes to have a lot of time when I am batting. Test matches are the best for that. So sometimes I do find it difficult, to come in and have to go for it from ball one. There are things I’m working on in my game to improve, and do on a consistent basis. 

In the nets we’ll practise these kinds of scenario. Normally we have our opening batters against our opening bowlers. But we will also have a 12-ball challenge – you have to set a certain amount, or chase down a total. Maybe bowlers would go for over and over, and you keep count of runs per over, that sort of thing.  

In that environment, there’s always a lot of arguments. Everyone’s quite competitive, but it’s in good spirit – everybody is in the right frame of mind.

I finished studying law at uni in 2015. I was fortunate enough to have really good support along the way. It was good timing that I was able to finish my degree, almost just before the women’s game was starting to become a lot more professional, and we were going to be playing a lot more. 

The next step is probably work experience. Whenever I get a chance –just to keep it relevant and keep it fresh in my mind. It’s something to pursue in the near future, another exciting challenge that lies ahead. 

We are paving the way for the next generation. They will have full-time professional cricket as a job, basically. I’ve got the study and my degree already, and I’ve got a fallback option already if I need it. But there are some people sort of part-time or casual, playing and training, especially in the domestic league, and I think it’s definitely paving the professional athlete pathway.

I do think it’s still quite important that young female athletes pursue something educational as well. Having something other than cricket in their life.

Sport injuries happen, and you need to have a fallback option. It’s not necessarily a negative way to look at it.

Work–life balance is important, and that’s the same for athletes as well. It’s all well and good, travelling the world, doing something you love when it’s all going well and you are performing … When you are not winning or playing as well as you want to play, that’s when you actually do need something else to be focusing your attention on.


This week’s highlights…

Cricket: The Ashes – Australia v England, 3rd Test, day 3

Saturday, 10.30am (AWST), WACA Ground, Perth

• Horseracing: Inglis Villiers Stakes Day

Saturday, 12.40pm (AEDT), Royal Randwick, Sydney

Soccer: A-League – Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United

Saturday, 5.35pm (AEDT), McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Basketball: WNBL – UC Capitals v Adelaide Lightning

Sunday, 3pm (AEDT), National Convention Centre, Canberra

Cricket: BBL – Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers

Tuesday, 7.45pm (AEDT), Spotless Stadium, Sydney

WBBL – Brisbane Heat v Melbourne Renegades

Friday, 2pm (AEDT), Camberwell Sports Ground, Melbourne

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on December 16, 2017 as "All-round success".

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Richard Cooke is a contributing editor to The Monthly, and the 2018 Mumbrella Publish Award Columnist of the Year.

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