ONE of Australia’s best ever female cricketers has bowled into the Northern Territory outback to promote Aussie Rules football.
World class pace bowler Julie Hunter has retired from international duties and moved to Katherine, three hours south of Darwin, to pursue a new career in sports marketing.
Ms Hunter, a heroine of several successful Australian World Cup victories, announced her retirement from cricket at the conclusion of Hobart Hurricanes' Women's Big Bash League campaign last month.
At 32, she has taken 57 international wickets, played 24 One Day Internationals and 32 T20s for Australia, winning in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
She is now the new AFL NT manager in the Katherine region.
"I reached the point where I was past my peak, I started looking for jobs and this one came up." Ms Hunter said.
“I had a few different offers but took this one in Katherine because I thought it was a real opportunity,
“I’ve left my partner and my family in Melbourne to try something new up here.”
“I am not going to make big changes, I just want to see if we can improve a few things to make it more sustainable, and make sure we are giving everyone the opportunity to play,” she said.
“I am loving the weather up here, coming from the south, it is a really friendly community, and it has been great to meet everyone,” she said.
Melbourne-born Julie Hunter played regularly in Victoria’s underage representative teams and her accurate bowling saw her progress through the ranks to the Australian Under-19 team.
She made her domestic debut for Victoria in the 2003-04 season.
Her performances in her first Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) season saw her rewarded with a position in the Australian Under-23 side in 2004.
After six years playing domestic cricket, Ms Hunter made her international debut in 2010 for the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars.
Ms Hunter remained in the national squad which took out the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in the West Indies in 2010.
Two years later Ms Hunter played a key role in Australia’s defence of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, finishing the tournament as the leading wicket-taker with 11 scalps and 2-36 in the final against England.
Ms Hunter moved to Tasmania for the 2015-16 WNCL season, also signing with the Hobart Hurricanes in the WBBL.
Her best bowling figures came in the 2012 T20 World Cup semi-final where she claimed 5-22 against the West Indies.
Ms Hunter said it wasn’t hard to retire knowing she had the job in Katherine to come to.
“Cricket has given me a lot, but there is lots to look forward to up here,”
“I want to set up a pathway so you can play AFL from when you first pick up a footy all the way through and I am hoping to get a girls competition going in Katherine,” she said.
“Sport breaks barriers … gender, race sexual orientation, that doesn’t matter when everyone works together as a team.”
One of her first duties was to welcome four stars from the Hawthorn Football Club to Katherine on Thursday for a school sports clinic.