Bins, wins and verbals: Meet the true Shelley Nitschke

Maintaining it easy: Get to know Shelley Nitschke

Ask anybody within the present Australian staff to explain Shelley Nitschke, and it’s nearly assured ‘laidback’ will likely be one of many first descriptors employed.

Approachable, caring and empathetic are different widespread refrains from those that as soon as performed alongside the legendary allrounder, and now play underneath her in her function as interim Australia head coach.

Watching the calmness with which Nitschke is marshalling the nationwide aspect in Birmingham on the Commonwealth Video games, these sentiments ring true.

As such, it’s considerably troublesome to reconcile this Nitschke with the hilarious tales of the white-line fever that when possessed the South Australian when she stepped onto the sphere.

There’s the time she tossed her bat within the bin after getting out throughout a sport in Darwin in 2007.

And that point just a few years later when she supplied England a very candid piece of her thoughts, after they dared to sledge a teenage Meg Lanning on debut.

It was that aggressive spirit that propelled Nitschke’s exceptional rise from the obscurity of membership cricket in Katherine to a debut within the nationwide aspect at age 28.

As a coach, she now not wears that facet of her character on her sleeve; however Nitschke’s straight-talking method stays, and the traits that so endeared the allrounder to her former teammates have equally received the respect of the present aspect.


Nitschke’s listing of accolades is in depth, significantly given the late bloomer’s time on the highest degree lasted all of six years.

A four-time Belinda Clark Award winner, 2010 ICC Ladies’s Cricketer of the 12 months and a two-time World Cup champion, she performed 122 internationals throughout all codecs, capturing 153 wickets together with her left-arm spin and scoring 3,118 runs.

But when not for the failure of an area softball competitors within the Northern Territory outback initially of this century, Nitschke might by no means have performed cricket for her nation in any respect.

Rising up in South Australia, Nitschke adopted a typical path into cricket, roped in as she was by way of her father and brother.

“I used to hang around at my brother’s coaching periods as a result of Dad was teaching, so I used to be simply hanging round ready to get a experience dwelling … after which I assumed it was simpler to hitch in,” Nitschke instructed

“One factor led to a different, they wanted some extra gamers, and so I began taking part in under-16s once I was about 11.”

It was a case of another year, another award for Nitschke in 2011 // Getty
It was a case of one other yr, one other award for Nitschke in 2011 // Getty

However when Nitschke grew too outdated for junior cricket, she was compelled to select; she additionally performed softball, and the video games clashed with senior males’s cricket.

Softball was the winner, and a sport Nitschke continued to pursue throughout her college days in Adelaide.

“It wasn’t till I used to be about 22 that I took up cricket once more, once I moved as much as Katherine within the Northern Territory,” she stated. “Their softball competitors had simply folded, so I began taking part in cricket up there as an alternative and it reignited my love of the sport … and I suppose the remaining is historical past.”

Remarkably, inside two years after her unintentional cricketing comeback, a 23-year-old Nitschke made her Ladies’s Nationwide Cricket League debut, shortly incomes a status as a fierce competitor.

4 years later, only a week after her twenty eighth birthday, a nationwide call-up adopted.

“I really assume if I would spent a bit longer out of the sport, I might need left it too late,” she stated. “I fell out of it from 16 to 22 … if there’d been one other couple of years on high of that, it might need been a bit too late.”


Nitschke’s first tour took her to India in late 2004. She had arrived in one of many all-time nice Australian sides, the place her teammates included Belinda Clark, Cathryn Fitzpatrick, Karen Rolton, Alex Blackwell and Mel Jones.

Fitzpatrick introduced her ODI cap in Mysore and Nitschke grabbed a wicket on debut – her just one for the tour.

Regardless of the lean outcomes, a fireplace had been lit. Nitschke resolved to make her subsequent probability depend.

“Off the sphere, the entire touring expertise, and simply being a part of that surroundings, I knew that is what I needed, that is the place I needed to be and what I needed to do,” she stated.

“On the sphere, (I used to be) not so profitable. After that tour, I stated to myself, ‘If that is it, then that is OK. But when this isn’t it, then I am not going to let that occur once more – I am going to ensure I am doing the whole lot I can to place my finest foot ahead and carry out my finest’.

“Fortunately, the selectors caught with me for a bit bit longer.”

Nitschke got a chance opening for Australia and never looked back // Getty
Nitschke received an opportunity opening for Australia and by no means regarded again // Getty

Nitschke’s fears had been unwarranted. The selectors and her captain Clark had been nicely conscious of the expertise they’d within the late-blooming South Australian, they usually had been ready to offer her time to understand it.

Certainly one of Clark’s most vivid recollections of Nitschke’s arrival into the Australian set-up are from a pre-tour coaching camp in Adelaide forward of that Indian debut.

The squad regulars knew solely too nicely of the gruelling health session that awaited them and thus had arrived appropriately attired.

“Shell turned up, and she or he had tracksuit pants on – and I simply keep in mind considering, What are you doing? We’ll be working,” Clark instructed

“Everybody else had shorts on, as a result of they knew we had been about to get completely nailed … and I believe Shell’s tracksuit pants received heavier and heavier as a result of it was raining on the time too.

“She by no means wore tracksuit pants once more. However that is my first reminiscence of her, that she had in all probability no concept what she was entering into, coming into the nationwide set-up.

“My different early reminiscence of Shell is (the tour of India) … she would have performed each sport, however I believe she solely received one wicket.

“I reckon at occasions I used to be having to persuade her that it was time for her to bowl.

“She was tremendous nervous and doubtless felt like she was out of her depth. She wasn’t, however she thought she was.”

Nitschke saved her spot within the squad for the 2005 World Cup in South Africa and after breaking into the XI for Australia’s third group stage match towards West Indies, she remained within the aspect for the remainder of the match, taking 11 wickets at a mean of eight, together with the prized scalp of India skipper Mithali Raj for six as Australia triumphed within the closing.

A Check debut adopted that August in the UK, earlier than Nitschke unleashed one of many nice ODI bowling performances at Kidderminster, tearing by way of England with 7-24.

It remained the very best one-day bowling show by an Australian girl till Ellyse Perry’s 7-22 towards England in Canterbury in 2019.

“It takes completely different folks completely different quantities of time to get comfy in a staff, and imagine that they belong there,” Clark defined. “I believe Shell was a traditional instance of somebody who began the sport late, got here into the staff late, and doubtless simply had by no means contemplated that this was the trail she was going to take.

“She took time to persuade herself she was in the best spot. Everybody else may see the expertise and the potential, however I believe Shell doubted herself for a short time. However as soon as she received rolling, completely, she knew she belonged.”

Because the likes of Clark, Rolton and Melissa Bulow retired from the Australian aspect, Nitschke steadily labored her approach from the tail-end to the top-order.

She was promoted to opener throughout a 2006-07 quadrangular in India, the place her long-awaited first half-century got here towards New Zealand, and she or he remained there for the remainder of her profession.


It was in direction of the back-end of her worldwide days that Nitschke began taking part in alongside the precociously gifted youngsters who’re the current-day superstars of the Australian staff.

Every have their very own recollections of the allrounder, however a theme does emerge.

“It is in all probability not too truthful on her, and it is fairly distinctive to the remainder of her character, however she was fairly keen on a little bit of a tantrum when she received out,” Ellyse Perry instructed 

“I keep in mind the primary sport that I used to be part of up in Darwin (in 2007), she put her bat within the garbage bin after she received out.

“And I did not know lots of the gamers too nicely, in order that was kind of an enduring impression.

“However she’s simply a kind of gamers that’s mates with everybody, has a terrific reference to everybody within the group, and was simply such a pleasant individual to have round in addition to participant.

“Tremendous aggressive, clearly, and I believe she’s introduced a variety of that throughout to her teaching, minus the tantrums.”

Lanning remembers Nitschke’s fiery response when England determined they’d attempt to get within the head of her then-teenage opening companion on debut.

“Shelley was proper there behind me,” she grins. “I wasn’t cool sufficient to say something again (to the England gamers), however she instructed them the place to go they usually had been fairly quiet after that.

“That was fairly cool initially of my profession, to have Shell there taking care of me.”

And Alyssa Healy remembers: “I will not lie, I used to be a bit bit terrified of Shell once I first got here in – extra so as a result of I performed towards her a bit in home cricket and she or he received me out for enjoyable and instructed me the place to go as a younger, smartarse of a debutant.

“However as soon as I received within the staff and received to know her a bit bit extra, she’s only a actually superb individual and a extremely lovely human.

“The fantastic thing about Shell was you might fairly actually simply throw her the ball at any second and she or he would make one thing occur. That was fairly unimaginable.”

Nitschke laughs ruefully when requested about her on-field persona, however admits it was almost definitely a vital think about why she was so profitable.

“Certainly one of my outdated coaches, Mark Sorell, used to at all times inform me that I simply love being within the contest,” she stated. “When the chips had been down, that was once I was at my finest.”

In 2011, on the high of her sport because the world’s top-ranked allrounder, Nitschke abruptly known as it quits. At 34, she determined it was time for the following section of life – one which didn’t contain cricket.

“I actually wasn’t a spring hen,” she stated. “I felt like I would had a extremely good run of it and I at all times needed to exit on my phrases and once I was fairly on high of my sport.

“‘Fitzy’ (Fitzpatrick) at all times used to inform me, ‘I reckon you bought probably the most out of your self’. So I do not know if that is a praise or not. Possibly she’s telling me I am not that naturally gifted however I used to work arduous, so I used to be profitable.”


Teaching was by no means within the plan for Nitschke, but it surely didn’t take lengthy for cricket to creep again into her life following her 2011 retirement.

She began working as a improvement officer in regional South Australia, earlier than a possibility introduced itself in excessive efficiency on the SACA.

“One factor led to a different,” Nitschke stated. “A part of the (improvement officer) function that I actually loved was teaching the underage consultant groups.

“So when the chance got here up within the high-performance division on the SACA … after which once I received into (the assistant) function with the Australian staff, it was like, Yeah, excessive efficiency is the place I actually need to be.”

Nitschke additionally shocked many – herself included – when she got here out of retirement for the inaugural season of the WBBL in 2015-16.

She took some convincing from then-Adelaide Strikers coach Andrea McCauley, who ultimately talked her right into a playing-coaching function, so she may lend her appreciable experience on-field within the fledgling competitors.

“I used to be like, ‘Nah, I do not assume so’,” Nitschke grinned. “Anyway, she talked me into it.”

Nitschke came out of retirement for the inaugural WBBL season // Getty
Nitschke got here out of retirement for the inaugural WBBL season // Getty

On the identical time, her teaching profession was on the rise; she mentored a Cricket Australia XI aspect with Ryan Harris on the Beneath-19 Nationwide Championships, whereas alternatives additionally arose with Australia’s improvement aspect, then often called the Taking pictures Stars.

Her first tour with the senior aspect was an ODI and T20 journey to India in March 2018. It got here shortly after she had been appointed in a brand new full-time assistant function for the ladies’s staff, which had additionally required a transfer from Adelaide to Brisbane.

“Once more (like her taking part in profession), it was a little bit of a gradual burn,” stated Clark, who performed an influential function in Nitschke’s teaching journey as Cricket Australia’s then senior supervisor of staff efficiency.

“She’d performed primarily improvement work so I knew that she may join with folks and affect the choices that youngsters had been making about taking on the sport and dealing with volunteers, and I believe that grounding was actually beneficial to her.

“Then little by little, she began to do extra work within the high-performance set-up and began to indicate an inherent ability for teaching.

“Individuals who can join, construct robust relationships, assist different folks and concentrate on others – not themselves – they’re the folks that find yourself being actually good coaches, and Shell at all times had these qualities.”


Beth Mooney was discovering her ft within the Australian staff when Nitschke first took on the assistant function for his or her 2018 tour to India.

Within the intervening years, by way of their time collectively within the nationwide setup and in addition with the Perth Scorchers, they’ve solid a detailed bond based mostly on belief and mutual respect.

Nitschke credit Mooney’s direct method for serving to her personal improvement as a mentor by way of that interval.

And when the left-hander displays on her mentor’s progress throughout the previous 4 years, there are echoes of Nitschke’s early days as a world participant.

“I believe she’s grown rather a lot in confidence since that preliminary tour in 2018,” Mooney instructed “Clearly she’s received a variety of data and perhaps early on she did not ship it as a lot as she maybe may have, and now she understands the impression that she has with the phrases she says and the perception she has.

“That is been a terrific evolution of hers, and doubtless simply trusting her intestine a bit extra as nicely.

“We simply have this understanding of one another and (give one another) ‘honesty with care’ as nicely.

“I believe it may be a tricky gig generally, taking part in on the elite degree, however to have a coach that you simply really feel respects you and also you respect them makes it rather a lot simpler, but additionally means you are capable of have some robust conversations at occasions.”

Nitschke in her Scorchers role, with Aussie spinner Alana King // Getty
Nitschke in her Scorchers function, with Aussie spinner Alana King // Getty

The white-line fever stayed out on the sphere when Nitschke retired, and there’s actually no suggestion there are any bats being binned in Birmingham.

However Nitschke’s capability to be each calm and no-nonsense is resonating with the present squad, together with Ashleigh Gardner, who has labored intently with the previous spinner.

“She’s a fairly laidback character, however she’s additionally a straight shooter on the identical time,” Gardner stated.

“You at all times know the place you stand with Shell, and she or he’s at all times trustworthy.

“I really do not thoughts when folks inform me straight down the road relatively than beating across the bush with issues.

“And I believe that is the very best factor about her – she’ll let you know how it’s. Generally you want to listen to it, however generally you do not.

“However the very best factor about her teaching is that it is at all times coming from place, so you realize it will make you higher down the road.”

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