Ipswich cricket’s ‘sergeant general’ in 50 match milestone
DEDICATED Ipswich Hornets Second Grade captain/manager Leanne Bichel describes herself as the "sergeant general'' of her representative cricket side.
Having recently celebrated her 50 match milestone with the Queensland Premier Grade club, Bichel remains one of the most important cogs in the Hornets development.
She took on the team's manager role when she helped launch the first Hornets women's side into the higher level competition five years ago.
Fifty one games later, the former Queensland indoor cricket representative and honorary Australian vigoro player is still fulfilling an important senior role helping a group of 13-16 year olds further their cricketing careers.
"I'm on the field as a sergeant general, and off the field keeping them in line,'' Bichel joked.
Bichel's 50th match was against Sunshine Coast where the Hornets fittingly reached 1/150 chasing the home team's 149.
"It was a bit of a surprise actually. It snuck up on us,'' she said of her milestone.
However, thanks to statistically alert husband and First Grade coach Wayne, Leanne wasn't going to reach that achievement without recognition.
Hornets club president Peter Leschke presented Leanne with a bouquet of flowers while congratulating and thanking her.
Leanne's 51st game was in last weekend's Jodie Fields Shield Second Grade victory over Wynnum Manly at Baxter Oval.
After making 8/188 off their 40 overs, the Hornets restricted Wynnum to 8/167. Macy Hauser snared 3/13 off eight overs.
Bichel didn't bat but maintained her regular influential role in the field - as she has from that first season.
"I started off being manager with that team in the first couple of weeks that we were in there,'' she recalled.
"We were lacking probably leadership, just an older head, with all the young ones.
"I ended up doing that and have been doing that ever since.
"I'm probably a guide, always there for the young ones, helping out and giving direction. That's the main thing.''
Leanne was a keen vigoro player before moving into the indoor cricket arena where she also represented Queensland in the 1990s.
She is lining up for Fassifern in Saturday's masters match against Ipswich, as part of the pennants games and marking the Ipswich Vigoro Association's 90th anniversary.
On Sunday, Leanne will be back in Hornets colours playing in two T20 games at Chelmer.
"We're going all right,'' she said keen for the Hornets second graders to continue building momentum after a later start, washouts and byes.
The Hornets women first graders play Sandgate Redcliffe at Deagon, fresh from a their latest win in the Katherine Raymond Shield competition.
The Hornets first graders chased down Sunshine Coast's 249 with Queensland Fire contracted player Ellie Johnston scoring a brilliant 137.
Leanne said seeing players like Johnston secure higher level opportunities was one of the most satisfying parts of her job.
"That was a fantastic achievement by her but just being able to see the girls come through and see them achieving and aiming for higher honours is what you want,'' she said.
The Hornets women's program started with a Second Grade side five years ago, igniting immediate success.
After winning the grand final, the Hornets were undefeated the following season, gaining promotion to the Katherine Raymont Shield (First Grade) competition.
The Hornets have fielded two teams since, continuing their development and expansion focus.
"Probably being involved in the finals for the first two years was exciting,'' she said, when asked to share some of her favourite moments.
Leanne said husband Wayne was a terrific ally in their respective Hornets work.
"He's tremendous. We help each other,'' she said, despite them often going in different directions.
"We have all the background knowledge on indoor cricket. He's played a helluva lot of outdoor (cricket) and made Queensland and Australia for indoor.''
Leanne also thanked Second Grade coach Tony Potbury for his commitment.
Asked if she'll play another 50 games, Leanne paused before responding: "I'm not answering that question. I thought last year was my last year playing.''
However, given how much work the Bichels have put into the Hornets, Leanne is more than likely to be around in some capacity as the Hornets chase more milestones.
Sunday: 1st Grade (50 overs) - Round 15 - Ipswich Hornets v Sandgate Redcliffe at Deagon.
2nd Grade (T20s): Ipswich Hornets at Chelmer
Round 7 v Valleys (10am)
Round 8 v Redlands (2.15pm)