Amid all the code-hopping from this current generation of women’s sport, never had Dana Lester once seriously contemplated cricket would be her ball game.
On reflection, Lester quips after pausing for a moment: “I didn’t really regard myself very highly as a cricketer.”
Netball was the be-all and end-all. Just her and Kelsie Rainbow, always state teams for the Winnaleah pair.
Out of nowhere, a 14-year-old Lester was asked to join in a Cricket Tasmania girls’ development program.
Just months on since picking up a bat, she was playing for the under-15 state squad.
“The coach of that side first rang me to attend, but before that I really hadn’t played much at all,” Lester says.
“I really had played just a bit in the backyard and I fielded in for my brother’s teams every now and then.”
That was only 2012 – but cricket even then was still a pretty much male bastion.
Lester was no stranger to any of that. She was spotted supporting her brother at a youth representative game.
“That’s actually quite funny,” Lester says.
“While we were waiting for him to bat, I must’ve been playing on the sidelines and the coach saw me from there.
“To be honest, that’s only how they knew my name.”
Cricket has come a long way, according to Lester, for inclusiveness and gender parity that was never there.
For International Women’s Day on Thursday, the Mowbray playing coach can recall her introduction to the local club cricket scene.
“It was for a while what do the committee, club people do for the boys and you’d always have to ask how can we include the girls,” Lester says.
“Now I find that the question is not even asked – it’s a certain given. They’re now instantly incorporated.
“We train with each other at times, we go to each other’s functions...I especially think in the last five years, we have seen that inclusiveness and that gap between the genders definitely close.”
The culture shock was apparent switching from netball, a sport Lester knew since she was just eight.
Even to this day for her beloved State League Cavaliers side. For a Tasmanian representative all the way through her teens, she noticed a point of difference to cricket.
Things were always pretty intense on the court.
It was survival of the fittest.
But cricket gave her an out clause, so to speak.
“It was interesting to have a contrast of the two sports at state level,” Lester, 20, says.
“When I started, I didn’t realise that the coaches we had would play music at training and play fun games.
“It wasn’t all really intense, skill-focus, as opposed to netball where I went through the state selection process and their training was very rigorous, quite competitive and you got really nervous.
“As a 14 or 15-year-old, that can be quite daunting and scary whereas cricket it was very much a laid-back thing but still with that element of professionalism and they want every girl to benefit.
“For me it was a lot of fun and it didn’t phase me whether I made it or not.”