With the next women’s T20 World Cup less than 100 days away, Australian all-rounder Jess Jonassen has everything crossed she will be there.
Part of the squad that headed to the West Indies for the last tournament — where Australia beat England by eight wickets in the final — Jonassen did not get a chance to play.
After suffering her fourth career knee injury in the preseason, she had done everything possible in rehab to make the plane trip.
But she was not quite ready to take the field.
A long way from home and watching the team’s success from the sidelines, Jonassen told Grandstand she was in a really dark place.
“I was devastated when I injured my knee again,” she said.
“It was one of my best preseasons I’d ever had, I was in the best shape I’d ever been in and I got injured in a way that was so innocuous that a lot of people didn’t even know that I’d hurt myself at first.”
Ranked as the ICC’s number one ODI bowler in the women’s game and in the top-ten rankings for the T20I format, Jonassen instead took on a coaching role with young spinners Sophie Molineux and Georgia Wareham during the trip to stay involved with the team.
The Victorian pair were playing in their first World Cup and had pretty crucial roles with the ball — Molineux up front and Wareham through the middle — so Jonassen saw it as her way to contribute.
But still, on a personal level, Jonassen struggled mentally and said she was lucky to have the emotional support of her partner Sarah and family back home during that difficult time.
“It’s always challenging even when you’re fully fit to be away from family for as long as we are sometimes, and I think not playing sort of just added to that a little bit as well,” she said.
“When you’re away and stuck in the hotel a little bit, all the emotions and everything is amplified because there’s no way you can really escape it but I was fortunate enough to have some really good support around me.”
The Australian women’s cricket team has credited a strong culture for driving its unprecedented success over the past two years and Jonassen said a tight bond with a couple of teammates, in particular, helped her get through the adversity.
“My biggest support person in that time was Nicole Bolton and also Delissa Kimmince who’s one of my best friends as well. To have both of them there sort of made things a little bit easier,” she said.
“I think with Bolts and I both being in the same position in a way, we were sort of on the sidelines throughout that whole trip, so we were sort of able to lean and bounce off each other at various times throughout that tour.”
The increased focus on mental health in elite sport means the squad now has a full-time psychologist which travels with them.
Peter Clarke has been on board with the women’s side for the last few seasons and Jonassen said his quirky personality fits right in with the group’s ability to have fun at work.
“He’s obviously very professional and very good at what he does and how he conducts himself, but I think with him being a character as well sort of just gets the girls to relax,” she said.
“One of his mottos is ‘Be free’ and I think that’s really come about in the way that we play our cricket and how we interact with each other off the field.”
Reflecting on such a difficult time in her career, Jonassen said being forced to take some time out from the game taught her an important lesson about life balance.
“I think looking back now, to even get back and be on the plane was a massive achievement,” she said.
“Regardless of the time you have to spend away from the game, whether that be through injury or personal reasons, it sort of does refresh you and puts everything into perspective.
“For me, that was big because it allowed me to get some well-needed balance back in my life. To realise what is actually important to me and how can I contribute to anything that I do, whether that be the team’s success, bettering me as a person or improving my relationship … it sort of allowed me to look at things from a well-rounded perspective as opposed to just focusing solely on Jess Jonassen the cricketer, I was Jess Jonassen the human being.”
As selection for the upcoming T20 Women’s World Cup approaches, Jonassen has been putting her hand up with some incredible performances on the domestic scene.
She’s currently leading the WBBL wicket-taking list with 17 scalps, with best figures of 4/13 against the Sydney Thunder last weekend.
Her 63* runs from 29 balls yesterday against the Melbourne Renegades got her player of the match honours and was also crucial in keeping the Brisbane Heat — as defending champions — at the top of the ladder.
You can hear the WBBL on ABC Grandstand this Summer, via your local radio or the ABC Listen app.