IT'S not often a professional sportsperson thanks an organisation for sacking them.
But Manly-Warringah cricketer Saskia Horley conceded being de-listed by the NSW Breakers women's team three years ago was the best thing to happen to her career. It forced the gifted all-rounder to take stock of the situation and re-evaluate her life outside of the game.
"I wasn't surprised that it happened. I didn't take my chance at the Breakers for granted but it was all in my lap and I have now worked out I was probably a touch ungrateful for the opportunity," she said.
"Losing my contract was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was suddenly outside the professional cricket bubble. I worked at an RSL club until four in the morning, I started a cricket coaching business. I had to work really hard.
"I matured a lot and worked myself out. That's the reality of working outside of sport. It's not to say contracted players don't work hard or are ungrateful but it's easier once you're out of that situation to see how great an opportunity it is."
Horley was just 17 when she landed her first Breakers contract and will return next season as a much more seasoned player after winning a new deal on the back of a stunning debut season for new club Manly. The 22-year-old finished as the leading run-scorer in NSW Premier Cricket last summer, scoring 646 runs at a mind-blowing average of 92.29.
Currently playing with English club Middlesex, Horley hopes her return to the Breakers squad leads to interest from WBBL clubs. "I want to play as many games as I can within the Breakers season and hopefully also pick up a WBBL contract, so I am trying to play as much cricket as I can while I am here in the UK," she said.
"I've even played a game at Lord's with the MCC. It's surreal how things have changed in a year."
There was also good news for pace bowler Ryan Hadley, who earned an upgrade from a rookie contract to a full-time deal with the Blues' men's squad after taking 23 wickets for Manly last season.
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