It’s been a whirlwind six months for 18-year-old Maddy Darke, whose latest triumph is a first ever rebel Women’s Big Bash League contract with the Sydney Sixers.
Darke, a highly touted keeper-batter, has already drawn comparisons to Alyssa Healy and is itching for some training time alongside her new teammate.
"I always looked up to players like Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy," Darke said.
"I know I am going to be able to learn a lot from everyone in the team but being a wicketkeeper and batter I am hoping I can just be a sponge around Midge (Healy)."
Healy appears equally thrilled by the prospect, taking to social media to share her excitement.
Despite her youth, Darke has been on the radar for higher honours for some time and was recently rewarded with a call-up for the Australia A tour of England.
"I got the call-up as an injury replacement and it was a big surprise, something that came completely out of the blue," Darke said.
"One minute I was at home and the next minute I’m in England playing with people I have looked up to and who have played for Australia or been very close to that.
"It was the best tour ever for me."
While it may have come as a surprise to Darke, the talented Sydneysider has been steadily making waves in pathway programs for the past 12 months.
As well as scoring three centuries in last year’s Women’s Premier Cricket season, Darke toured New Zealand with the Australia Under 19s side, is a member of Cricket Australia’s National Performance Squad and recently earned a state contract with the NSW Breakers.
Sixers coach Ben Sawyer said the Darke’s inclusion was an easy decision.
"I saw Maddy first-hand with the Australian under 19’s in South Africa in 2018 where she had a great tour and we have had our eye on her since," Sawyer said.
"It’s also been clear for a while through the Cricket NSW pathway that she is a talented cricketer with a good level of intelligence and maturity."
Darke, who is currently studying physiotherapy at Australia Catholic University, is one of three teenagers on the Sydney Sixers roster, joining 15-year-old Hayley Silver Holmes and 16-year-old Stella Campbell.
The trio of youngsters make up an incredibly imposing magenta line-up that includes Australia mainstays Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy and Ashleigh Gardner, alongside South African duo Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk.
After a shock loss to the Brisbane Heat in last season’s final, the Sixers will be aiming for a third Big Bash trophy to add to their cabinet.
The Sixers will kick off the WBBL|05 season against the Sydney Thunder on October 18 at North Sydney Oval.
Tickets to selected WBBL fixtures went on sale to the public today.