Melbourne Renegades captain Rachel Priest wished she had perspective five years ago.
“Earlier on in my career I was very serious about things and cricket was everything,” Priest said.
“A couple of losses like we had earlier this season would have stayed with me for a long time,” Priest said.
Priest is referring to the pair of eight-wicket defeats in Blacktown against the Sydney Thunder late in December, when the Renegades never threatened in either game.
Perspective can be hard to find when your side is on the end of a string of defeats.
But with the Renegades’ squad boasting seven players under the age of 21, the New Zealand wicket-keeper was well aware of the emotional roller-coaster which might grip her young side at some point in the season.
So it was clear that a healthy dose of perspective was needed in those moments after Blacktown.
As Priest directed to her group in the change rooms following the Boxing Day match, “There’s bigger things going on in the world. No one died. That’s cricket.”
It was all said with the bigger picture in mind.
“The tournament is so short that you have to get up and go again the next day,” Priest explained.
“If I can get that in their head now, then they’ll enjoy their career so much more. I wish I got that advice five years ago.”
In many ways, it shaped the team’s identity for the rest of the tournament.
Priest’s words were not exactly a new discovery, but they helped foster a genuine luster for enjoyment and ‘team’.
When a team lands upon a style – an identity – it can often be described in one sentence. Although the Renegades didn’t secure a finals berth, real progress was made and a culture was set.
“We were the same happy bunch of people that got along with each other so well and had a great time together regardless on the result on the field,” Priest said.
The skipper, along with vice-captain Kris Britt, Molly Strano and coach Lachlan Stevens, created a positive environment by investing in every player on the list.
“Britty has been an enormous help, and Molly as well in the field,” Priest admitted.
“I don’t have a philosophy as such, but for me, it’s mostly just enjoying the time out there and enjoy each other’s company as you aren’t able to play this game forever,” Priest said.
“And just for them to know that I believe in them and their ability, and that I think they should be out there playing.”
It was easy to see the belief in each player throughout the tournament.
Maitlan Brown tested the game’s best in Meg Lanning at the MCG. Sophie Molineux assumed greater responsibility in the batting order, opening alongside her captain. And Strano continued her rise as one of the game’s premier T20 wicket-takers.
With years of international and domestic playing experience, Priest had never experienced a changeroom quite like the Renegades’.
“I’ve never been involved in a group with so many youngsters,” Priest said.
“It’s been a unique group in that sense. You always get a different kind of group when you’ve got overseas players coming together and players from out of state as well.”
Leading a young side presented Priest with a set of fresh challenges. There was typically an element of teaching in every team meeting, conversation and nets session.
Simplicity was often preferred over the complex. Even still, leading a bunch of youngsters also meant there were a stream of players striving to prove themselves on the competitive stage.
“We had others who were just desperate to play and be part of something,” Priest surmised.