Manchester Originals' Lizelle Lee has admitted to feeling the pressure of performing on the domestic stage after calling time on her international career in controversial circumstances, writes Sportsbeat's Milly McEvoy.
The South Africa batter felt forced into retiring after failing to meet fitness requirements for the Proteas white-ball teams six months after being named ICC Women's ODI Player of the Year 2021.
The 30-year-old has returned to the Originals after ending as their highest run-scorer last year but believes there are advantages and disadvantages to women now being able to make a living in domestic competitions around the world.
"It’s amazing, but it also puts a lot of different factors that weighs on you, because if you don't do well in the tournament, it's a possibility for not getting picked the next time," Lee said.
"So even though it is a real drain I think it's a great opportunity for so many
people, there's still a lot of pressure going with it.
"But I think it's starting to become more like the men in a sense in that you can only do that and don't have to do the day job and that's quite amazing.
"[Retiring] was not something I wanted to do, not now, especially not in the middle of the [England] series, but circumstances just didn't allow me to wait to do something.
"It was just one of those things that I had to do," Lee was speaking at the launch of KP Snacks’ summer cricket roadshow at The Black Prince Trust in Oval. KP Snacks are the Official Team Partner of The Hundred and are on a mission to inspire more families to get active through cricket by bringing a pop-up experience on a nationwide tour of the country.
The roadshow will be in Manchester on 11 August with the Originals' Women's side kicking off their campaign on the 13th against Trent Rockets.
The opener made history as she faced the first-ever delivery in The Hundred, coming up against her former South Africa teammate Marizanne Kapp of the Oval Invincibles.
With the pressure on for Lee, she is holding herself to incredibly high standards, not impressed with her returns in the Hundred last year.
The right-hander ended the tournament as the seventh-highest run scorer with 215 runs at an average of 43.00.
And her expectations are just as high for her team.
She said: “I wish it could have gone a bit better for us, but I think as a team, we did well. We started off badly and then we got better as the tournament went on.
“I am really hoping to make a bit more runs this year. I want to contribute batting, fielding, or really helping our team make it to finals day this year, either the final or semi-finals.
“Because I really think we have a good team, so I’m hoping I can contribute more to the team and ultimately get us to that Finals Day.”
Lee is one of three mothers on the Manchester Originals team with Lea Tahuhu and Amy Satterthwaite set to make the trip over from New Zealand with their toddler Grace.
The former Surrey Stars player explained how life has changed since the arrival of her son Wihan in February.
"Since that little guy was born, I think everything changed, literally everything," Lee said. "It's been a roller coaster, some ups and downs but I think it's actually just giving me some bit of a more enjoyment factor in my cricket.
"And it is something I want to do, and I want to make him and my family very proud.
“It would be I think one of the greatest honours one day for my boy to say, 'my mother plays cricket' and my wife Tanja also plays, it would be great to see.
“And I'm just waiting for the moment. Obviously, he can’t even talk, even though he screams so much! But I'm really looking forward to that and hopefully he can be proud of me and his mother one day.”
KP Snacks, Official Team Partner of The Hundred, are touring the country this summer to offer more opportunities for people to play cricket as part of their ‘Everyone In’ campaign. Visit everyonein.co.uk/about