Rachel Priest in action for Sydney Thunder. © Sydney Thunder

Rachel Priest, the New Zealand wicket-keeper, has re-signed with Sydney Thunder for the fifth season of the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia. The announcement was made by the club on Thursday (September 19).

In an international career that began in 2007, Priest featured in 86 ODIs and 68 T20Is for New Zealand over the course of 10 years. She scored more than 2000 international runs— 757 of which came in T20Is at a strike rate of 106.02. Priest’s tally of 68 dismissals in T20Is is a New Zealand record.

The 34-year-old, who has been a member of the Thunder squad since 2017, has scored 602 runs across 30 matches for the club, and also completed 21 dismissals. 

Following a wonderful 2018-19 season in which she scored 338 runs in 15 matches, at a strike rate of 134.12, Priest was awarded the Alex Blackwell Medal— voted by her teammates as the best player of the tournament.

“I was obviously surprised to win the Alex Blackwell Medal,” she said. “I think for me, I mostly just focus on how the team’s going and obviously it was a really good season but disappointing at the end as well. I’m excited to be back and looking forward to seeing how far we can go this season.”

“It’s really exciting to see the competition move to a standalone window. The way the Big Bash has evolved over the years, I think it’s definitely ready for this next step and I’m really looking forward to it.”

The right-hander is coming into the WBBL with a massive win under her belt— victory in Women’s Cricket Super League final over Southern Vipers. Priest had an impressive run in the tournament, contributing 365 runs— fourth highest in the tournament— including three half-centuries, at an average of 36.50 and strike rate of 145.41. She is excited to re-join forces with Trevor Griffin, Thunder’s newly appointed head coach, for the first ever standalone WBBL.

“It was a pretty phenomenal season, to win 10 out of 11 games, you don’t get that often, but it all came together and having Trevor join Thunder now will be amazing for our group,” she said.

“Trevor and I work really well together. He’s a really good coach, he doesn’t just worry about the cricket, he worries about the players as people as well which I think is important. I think it’ll be a good challenge for him this season at Thunder, but I think he’s up for it.”

Griffin, too, is excited to continue working with Priest at Thunder.

“Priesty is an experienced player who knows her game very well. Having said that, she is always keen to continue to learn and develop. We’ve seen her wicketkeeping progress certainly over the past two years,” Griffin said.

“It’s not just what she does on the field, which is explosive and can take a game away from the opposition quite quickly, it’s what she brings off the field. Her experience in developing and supporting youngsters with their game is amazing, but also in team meetings she speaks up and she’s very supportive of the team environment and helps build that family feel which is important.”

Thunder, who will be led this season by Rachael Haynes, are set to open their campaign against local rivals, Sydney Sixers at North Sydney Oval on October 18.

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