On a mission: Salliann Beams’ quest for Tasmanian glory

Saliann Beams wants to win more for Tasmania © Getty Images

The pilot episode of the acclaimed American political drama series, The West Wing, ends with President Josiah Bartlet reminding the White House staff to focus on what is ahead of them. “My point is: Break is over,” the fictional President reiterates in his calm but commanding voice. “Mrs. Landingham, what’s next?,” he asks his personal secretary, once the staffers leave the Oval Office. If a White House staffer’s break is over, so is their leader’s. And they are all back to work. 

Salliann Beams is the President Bartlet of Tasmanian Tigers. Merely days after their first-ever Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) championship in the 2021-22 season, the head coach was already plotting the title defense. 

After signing a two-year extension as the head coach, Beams laid out her strategy for the team from the Apple Island. She believes the team has got a starting point for the future. With the pathways systems and domestic structure all in place, Beams is not satisfied with just one trophy, but hungry for more. Her ultimate goal is for Tasmania to win back-to-back titles in the WNCL.  

Tasmania won their first-even WNCL title in April 2022 © Tasmanian Tigers/Twitter

Tasmania won their first-even WNCL title in April 2022 © Tasmanian Tigers/Twitter

And for that, the work starts with improving their bowling stocks. With the addition of two young U-19 pacers, Callie Wilson and Julia Cavanough, she has some exciting talent to work with. “We went through every single bowler in the whole of Australia,” Beams told Women’s CricZone. “Some players were out of reach, but these girls were very much interested in joining. We said, it is not about where you are now, it is about where you are going to be, and that’s exciting for us.”

Cavanough hails from the Sandgate-Redcliffe Cricket Club from Brisbane, home of Australian superstar Beth Mooney, and she was a part of the Queensland team that lifted the Australia U-19 National Championship. Meanwhile, Wilson has represented the Sturt Cricket Club, where Australia’s interim head coach Shelly Nitschke and Megan Schutt honed their skills. Her team finished as runners-up in the U-19 championship with South Australia. 

Beams’ eyes lit up speaking about the young pace duo with enormous potential. “We have got Callie who angles the ball in. She has got a lot of pace. She is probably the quickest of those South Australian U-19 bowlers. And Julia, well, she is a left-armer. We needed one because we don’t have one of those. She swings the ball back into the right-hander and has serious pace.” 

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Tasmania are not the only team with U-19 talent in their squad for the 2022-23 WNCL season. Queensland have offered a contract to the 2021-22 U19 championship’s leading wicket-taker, Grace Parsons, as well as a left-arm pacer, Lucy Hamilton. South Australia have added wicketkeeper-batter Paris Hall and U-19 state captain Ella Wilson to the WNCL roster, while Olivia Henry has the opportunity to rub shoulders with five nationally contracted players in Victoria. 

The Tiger’s head coach is all in for this young and exciting talent pool and she believes all the U-19 and other age-group tournaments have had a massive role in the development of these players. The diamonds might be getting polished in the tournaments like WNCL and Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), but they are being discovered in each state’s age-group programs. 

“It is interesting to see the amount of pace bowling coming through. 

There are so many talented bowlers coming through and the standard has been awesome, particularly in the fielding department. With WNCL going to 12 games, these players are going to have a target on their backs. There are so many players eyeing their spot now. This just makes the whole system even better,” Beams added.

Australia has seen the rise in U19 talent in recent years © Tasmanian Tigers/Twitter

Australia has seen a rise in U19 talent in recent years © Tasmanian Tigers/Twitter

Tasmania’s new inductees will join the likes of Amy Smith, Charlie Knott, and Phoebe Litchfield, who have already played in WNCL and WBBL for their respective states. Beams trusts these players to become a bridge between the professional domestic teams and their age-group counterparts, which will benefit Australian cricket as a whole. 

“What is great about playing in the WNCL or WBBL is that someone like Phoebe Litchfield will still go in her own age environment with her peers, which I think is incredible,” she said, before adding, “it’s an environment that she will love and enjoy being around people the same age as her. At the same time, she is helping her teammates win games of cricket. I think it’s really important to feel what winning is like and that puts you in good stead when you do eventually transition into the professional world,” Beams highlighted. 

With the U-19 T20 World Cup just around the corner, these steady developments in Australia have potentially put them ahead of the rest of the world, like their senior team. Beams is confident that Australia will make it to the knock-out stage of the World Cup in South Africa. 

“These girls have been in the professional systems going into the U19 World Cup. They know what it’s like, to play at these levels. They have got good education and they will be well prepared for it. To tell you, Julia popped over from Queensland recently, and she said the World Cup is in January in South Africa. Well, that’s the goal straight away. It’s great, isn’t it?”

The answer to “what’s next?” has been mapped out by Beams for the next two years. With the expanded WNCL, the eighth season of WBBL, and the U19 World Cup, Australia are going to need polished players more than ever before, and Salliann Beams, just like President Bartlet from The West Wing, is ready for that challenge.