No grand farewell, but Haynes leaves an outstanding legacy

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When Rachael Haynes lofted a catch to mid-off, she walked off to a standing ovation. At the end of the game both teams, and players from Sydney Sixers who had remained from their earlier match, formed a guard of honour as she carried her son, Hugo.

Watched by her family, her team-mates had allowed her to run on first when their fielding stint began and Adelaide Strikers applauded her as she came into bat with Foo Fighters’ My Hero playing around the ground.

“I try to just embrace it, but it isn’t something that sits that comfortably with me to be honest,” Haynes said of her farewell. “I’ve probably spent most of my career trying to avoid the limelight. But really appreciate all the effort and really grateful for the players sending me off, it’s very kind of them.”

Haynes had announced her retirement in September, ending an international career that had tallied six Tests, 77 ODIs and 84 T20Is and a domestic career that started 17 years ago. She was a key member of the great Australian team that has dominated the sport in recent years. However, one of the common themes since her retirement was announced has been the impact she has had on others.

“I’ve always just tried to do the right thing by people, the right thing by the programmes I’ve been part of and tried to prepare the best I could and set a good example for others around me,” she said. “When you are doing all those things you are probably a bit oblivious to the impact it’s having, but there’s been quite a few people who have reached out this week and said, ‘good luck, well done’, and it’s definitely meant a lot to me.

“Everyone wants to succeed and do well, but what binds groups together and brings them back together is the success you share on field. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to experience that both domestically and internationally.”

Haynes wanted to complete this campaign for Sydney Thunder having not been able to play last season, but the WBBL did not turn into the farewell tour she had hoped for. Thunder ended with just one win in 14 matches and Haynes could not hit her stride with the bat.

“It’s an interesting one,” she said. “I clearly didn’t have the season I’ve had in the past. I suppose [upon] reflecting [that] you just lose a bit of that competitive edge and it’s something I’ve never had to be consciously aware of in the past, I’ve always just been up and 100% on it, and I reckon this year there were probably times when I wasn’t at that same edge that you need to have at this level.”

Haynes leaves an outstanding legacy to the game, with her career covering multiple eras as the sport became fully professional in Australia. Her own time in international cricket was split into two parts. It looked as though she could be done when she spent four years out of the side before returning in 2017 and shortly after captained the Ashes series in place of the injured Meg Lanning.

“I had mixed emotions coming into the ground today,” she said. “It’s strange, I announced it six weeks ago now and towards the end of this week when it was starting to become a bit more real, I definitely noticed myself going through different waves of emotion and being a bit teary. By the same the token I know I’m ready to walk away. But walking away from something that’s been such a big part of my life for a long time is also challenging.”

She has yet to decide what comes next. There will be some WBBL commentary during finals week and then she will take the rest of the year off. But if she so chooses, Haynes has plenty more to offer cricket.

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