Steph Townsend and Hannah Courtnell make history

PIONEERS: Hannah Courtnell and Steph Townsend have become the first women to play division one in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association. Picture: Anthony Brady
PIONEERS: Hannah Courtnell and Steph Townsend have become the first women to play division one in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association. Picture: Anthony Brady

NIRRANDA cricketers Steph Townsend and Hannah Courtnell have made history as the first women to play in the top grade of the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA). 

The pair played for the Nirranda division one team in its loss to Russells Creek last round.

Townsend made 14 and 15 while the highlight for Courtnell was snaring one wicket with her off-spinners.

Townsend has previously played division two cricket for West Warrnambool and Koroit.

Courtnell, from England, was making her first WDCA appearance in any grade.

She landed in Australia last October and has been playing with Townsend at Victorian Cricket Premier team Essendon Maribyrnong Park.

The pair decided to move down to the south-west after Christmas with Nirranda happy to have access to their considerable assets. 

It will be a short stint with the Knights for Courtnell who is heading back home to England next week. But her short stay in Australia has had a lasting impact and she plans on returning later this year on a full time basis.

Courtnell, 22, said she enjoyed the chance to play division one.

“It was a really good standard but I didn’t feel intimidated,” Courtnell said.

“There was some banter out there but it was also very respectful, it was good fun.”

Townsend, 23, has been a prominent figure in south-west sport since a young age through not only her standing as an emerging cricket star but also as a champion netballer for Old Collegians. This season she will coach Nirranda in netball.

Townsend said her division one debut was a big moment in her cricketing career.

“It was really exciting to be playing against the boys,” Townsend said.

“I enjoyed the extra pace of the ball coming onto the bat and the pressure you have to absorb. You just don’t get those balls you can hit for runs as often, you don’t get a lot of width to play with. The fielding is also a big difference, there are no easy runs.”