Sammy-Jo Johnson makes the move from Brisbane Heat to Sydney Thunder; signs two year deal
Sammy-Jo Johnson, two-time Women’s Big Bash League champion, will represent Sydney Thunder in the sixth season of the tournament having signed a two-year deal with the club. She made the move from Brisbane Heat, having represented the northern state for five seasons.
Johnson, a seam bowling allrounder, played a crucial role in Heat’s back-to-back title wins in 2018 and 2019. She took a total of 53 wickets and scored 417 runs over five seasons and showed her versatility with both ball and bat.
Having accepted a contract with New South Wales for the 2020-21 Women’s National Cricket League season, Johnson’s move to Thunder comes as no real surprise. While she admitted that it was hard for her to leave Heat, she said that it made most sense for her to sign with a Sydney-based club.
“I was really drawn to Thunder’s values,” Johnson said following the announcement on Saturday (August 15). “I enjoy giving back to the community and having an impact on local clubs and schools, and that’s something I’m really keen to get involved in at Thunder.”
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Johnson will likely have the opportunity to share the new ball with South African speedster Shabnim Ismail who re-signed with the club for this season. The fast bowler expressed her excitement at having the opportunity to join forces with Ismail and said she is keen to learn as much as she can from her.
“She’s an exciting player and I’m definitely looking forward to bowling alongside her,” Johnson told cricket.com.au. “She’s got so much international experience, so hopefully I can learn a little bit off her.”
The experience of Ismail and skipper Haynes aside, Thunder have a rather young group of players in their ranks. With the likes of Hannah Darlington, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia Wilson and Saskia Horley in the mix, Johnson’s presence adds some much needed experience to the group. The 27-year-old said she is looking forward to aiding the development of the young players, but is equally excited to evolve her own game under the guidance of head coach Trevor Griffin.
“There’s so many talented young players in the squad and I think it’s just a matter of guiding them in the right direction and ensuring they know that they can handle any situation that’s thrown at them,” she said.
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“Even as a senior player, I’ve still got plenty to learn and I want to continue to evolve as a person and a player. Trevor has such a such a wealth of experience and hopefully I can learn a lot from him.”
Griffin was effusive in his praise for the allrounder, calling her the “complete package.” Johnson’s versatility, he said, would add much depth to the Thunder squad.
“She’s a hard-hitting batter and an economical bowler who will bring a lot of experience to our squad,” Griffin said. “She has the ability to go in early in the powerplay and be destructive or go in at the end and take the game away from the opposition. With the ball, she can bowl with the new ball, in the middle or at the back end which will be vitally important to our set-up.”
“She’s the complete package and we’re very excited to welcome her to Sydney Thunder.”
Johnson is the ninth player to join the Thunder ranks. The squad consists of only two marquee players in Haynes and Ismail. Following the retirements of Alex Blackwell and Rene Farrell at the end of last season, and Rachel Priest’s move to Hobart Hurricanes, Thunder are in search of some experience. With two overseas international spots left to fill, it is likely the club will be looking for some batting talent.
“There’s a few spots to fill but there’s a lot of young talent mixed in with us older girls, so it’s shaping up as a decent side. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the list looks like,” Johnson said.
Squad so far: Rachael Haynes (c), Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Saskia Horley, Shabnim Ismail, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Phoebe Litchfield, Rachel Trenaman, Tahlia Wilson