Australian all-rounder Delissa Kimmince knows all too well what it’s like to need a break from cricket.
- Having fallen out of love with cricket, Delissa Kimmince took time out to travel and play in the AFLW
- She credits the time away and the bond she shares with her teammates for restoring her passion for the game
- Kimmince was part of the Brisbane Heat team that won the WBBL last season
In 2008, at just 18 years old, she debuted in the one-day format on Australia’s tour of New Zealand, but three years later Kimmince had already opted out of the game that offered her such a promising career, having developed a hatred for the sport.
Turning to travel, she moved to England and started work in a pub.
“I guess I’ve fallen both in and out of love with the game and at one stage there I hated it that much that I took the time off and I went and lived life,” she said.
“I was 22 at the time and cricket had ruled my life for such a long time that it sort of got a little bit overwhelming, and I think I had so much pressure on myself to do well that I forgot to enjoy the game.”
While her friend abroad eventually convinced her to play again for Warwickshire, Kimmince took a much more relaxed approach to county cricket and the break from playing allowed her time to refresh and recharge her mentality.
But five years later, back in Australia after a stint with the Brisbane Heat in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League, Kimmince found herself falling out of love with cricket again.
Better at noticing the signs this time round, she voiced her concerns with the coach and was able to strike up a deal in a different sport, with the Brisbane Lions AFLW team.
Kimmince only played one game for the Lions in the inaugural 2017 competition but says the switch was more about trying something different while maintaining a high level of fitness.
Queensland Cricket and the Lions had open communication during this period about Kimmince’s welfare and future, and when she decided to transition back to cricket again, she knew she had done the right thing.
“Now I’ve come back I’m probably enjoying the game more than I did when I was younger,” she said.
“I even look now and think when I retire what am I going to do? But I know that I’ll be OK. I’ve taken that break before, I’ve sorted myself out.
“If there is anyone out there struggling or holding on because they’re unsure of what the future holds, you’ll be surprised that when you do step away you will find something to fill that hole and there will be a lot of people around you to help you do it.”
It’s advice that is aptly timed with young Australian teammate Sophie Molineux deciding to take her own break from the game last week to focus on her mental health.
At least three male players have also put their hands up over the past month to admit they’re struggling, electing to step away from the game.
While Kimmince acknowledges each scenario is different for every individual, she provided a positive outlook on why it could be the best thing these athletes do for their career.
“It gives you a realistic view of life,” she said.
“For a lot of us cricket has ruled our lives and it’s one of those games that takes up quite a number of hours in your day, in your week and in your life.
“So when you take that step away from the game it gives you that realisation that there is life outside of cricket, and I think that’s where we are quite poor at having a life balance.
“It seems to be sometimes that cricket is everything and family and friends are pushed to the side.”
Team spirit is Kimmince’s driving force
Earning her first national contract last year and a full-time role with the Australian team, Kimmince has come full circle.
While it has taken her a lot of time and effort to get back in the Australian setup, she says she wouldn’t dream of changing her disrupted career because, overall, she is better off.
Bringing more life experience and a steady head to the game — with a clear focus to also have fun — Kimmince has become a reliable player with bat and ball as a true all-rounder.
One of her finest moments on the international scene this year came in Leicester where she took five wickets in the second Women’s Ashes ODI, wreaking havoc upon England’s batting line-up.
“I definitely treasure every moment I have now in the green and gold,” she said.
“I’m just so grateful to be back around the girls and be a part of the group again. I think when you’re so young and you get thrown into that mix, sometimes you can take it for granted and that’s where I was. I just thought that this was all easy as it happened so young for me.
“Coming back, I’ve really enjoyed the group. I think that’s what’s made it so special. This group is so family-like, you feel so welcome and I think that’s made me enjoy it more and even perform better.”
Certainly her evolved approach has helped keep her more relaxed, but it’s this mateship and teammate bond that Kimmince says has been the biggest factor in maintaining a passion for her career.
“A few years ago, there was a big cultural change and I think that was through [Australian coach] Matthew Mott and more so probably the way he wanted to play the brand of cricket,” she said.
“But I think all the girls that were involved in that sort of changing of the guard have encouraged us new girls to back yourself and believe in what you can do, while remembering it’s important to be a good person.
“I think that goes a long way in terms of the success we’ve had already and hopefully the success we’ll have down the track.”
Kimmince’s Brisbane Heat iscurrently leading the competition and in a good position to defend the title they won last summer.
Individually, she’s already taken 16 wickets in 13 matches, with best figures of 3-27.
If the Heat can hold out top spot at the end of this final round the team will host the finals weekend on home turf for the first time.
Tune into Grandstand’s coverage of the WBBL on your local radio or the ABC Listen app (WBBL pop up).