Jess Duffin, one of the stars of the Women’s Big Bash League this season, squashed talk of her making a comeback to the national side for the Women’s T20 World Cup at home next year with the announcement of her pregnancy.
Duffin, 30, a veteran of 117 matches for Australia, last played for the country in 2015. She seemed set for a comeback after a stellar WBBL 2019 season, where she led Melbourne Renegades to the semi-final. With 544 runs in 13 innings at an average of 68 and a strike-rate of 138.77, she was third on the runs charts. Subsequently, she was named captain of the WBBL team of the year.
However, Duffin revealed that she had played through the WBBL while pregnant and knowing there was no chance of featuring in the World Cup in February. It also put into context her decision to rule herself out of Australia A’s matches against India A.
“I was pregnant through the whole Big Bash,” she told AAP. “When those conversations [about Australia selection] came up, I thought, ‘well everyone is going to laugh when they find out’. Cricket Australia were obviously stoked, and were like ‘we know now why you didn’t play the Australia A stuff’.”
Significantly, Duffin, who also plays AFL Women’s football, will become the first elite player to make use of Cricket Australia’s path-breaking parental policy. As per the policy, announced in October, she is eligible for 12 months of paid parental leave, a confirmed contract for next summer, and non-playing roles with the board. A player can return to the game any time after giving birth, and will receive support for primary carers, including with flights, accommodation and travel expenses, till the child is four.
Coincidentally, New Zealand’s Amy Satterthwaite, whom Duffin replaced as captain at Renegades, also missed the WBBL and will sit out of the T20 World Cup while she has her first child.