This time last year, Sophie Molineux was an uncapped teenager preparing for the third edition of the Rebel WBBL, eyeing off a rise up the ladder for her Renegades side after a couple of disappointing seasons.
Having keenly watched her countrywomen retain the Women’s Ashes just weeks earlier, Molineux trained in Melbourne ahead of a WBBL campaign that would help transform her career.
On Saturday, just 12 months later and days away from yet another WBBL season, Molineux will be miles away from Melbourne and instead find herself at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua for Australia’s sold-out World T20 final against England.
“It was a massive high, that last wicket still feels like a bit of a blur to be honest,” Molineux said of Australia’s 71-run semi-final win on Friday that sealed their place in the tournament decider.
“It was pretty special. They’re moments you’ll remember forever."
Long touted as the ‘next big thing’ in Australian cricket after stellar age-group performances for Victoria, it was a breakout season for the Renegades in WBBL|03 that saw Molineux earn her maiden international call-up for Australia’s tour of India in March.
But it was against New Zealand and Pakistan in the lead-up to this tournament in the Caribbean that saw Molineux seize her chance, the left-armer taking on a lead role with the ball after fellow spinner Jess Jonassen was ruled out through injury.
So impressive was Molineux in those games that even when Jonassen recovered from knee surgery and joined her Australian teammates in the Caribbean, the Victorian held her spot in the playing XI.
Her subtle changes of pace have deceived even the world’s best batters over the past few weeks, while her unflappable nature and composure under pressure have been particularly impressive in Australia’s run to the final.
“I’ve been really impressed with her, she’s been fantastic,” Australia vice-captain Rachael Haynes said of Molineux.
“Seeing her subtle changes of pace with the ball, it’s really important on a wicket like (the one in Antigua) where you know it’s slow, so you’ve got to keep mucking around with the batter.
“She’s got quite a good head on her shoulders too and is really fun to have around the group. So it’s really great to see her doing well.”
Molineux, meanwhile, puts her seamless transition to international cricket down to her experiences playing in the Big Bash.
“We’re professional, so we do spend more time together and we’re training more often (than players from some other nations),” Molineux said of domestic women’s cricket in Australia.
“And the game experience playing Big Bash against world-class class players from overseas, doing that for the last three years has helped that. It does make it easier to transition from domestic to international.”
Back home on Sunday, her family and friends will be keenly watching in the Victorian town of Bairnsdale as Molineux helps Australia in their bid to win a fourth WT20 title.
And on the ground in Antigua, Molineux will have no shortage of home comforts; her housemates Tayla Vlaeminck and Georgia Wareham are also part of Australia’s 15-player squad.
For the trio of recent debutants, it’s been a whirlwind couple of months since all three were named in the group that played New Zealand on home soil in late September and early October.
“It’s really cool, Molineux said. “We had a moment before walking into the changerooms where we all just looked at each other and thought ‘What we are doing, what’s going on here?’
“Seeing Wolfy (Wareham) out there taking catches and just taking the game on, it was really cool to see.
“We’re just really proud of each other and it’s amazing to be able to experience it with those two.”
Australia will meet England in the World T20 final at Antigua's Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Saturday from 8pm local time (11am Sunday AEDT), with the match to be broadcast live on Fox Cricket and the Nine Network.
2018 ICC Women's World T20
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
November 9: Australia beat Pakistan by 52 runs
November 11: Australia beat Ireland by nine wickets
November 13: Australia beat New Zealand by 33 runs
November 17: Australia lost to India by 48 runs
November 22: Semi-final: Australia beat West Indies by 71 runs
November 24: Final: Australia v England, Sir Vivian Richards Ground