Leah Dobson has described her three-month winter spell of grade cricket in Australia as “a life-changing experience”.

The Northern Diamonds star played in Queensland’s premier women’s competition for the Gold Coast Dolphins club either side of Christmas, progressing her game with the ball as well as the bat.

Dobson had never been to Australia before but loved every single minute.

And the 22-year-old batter is now determined to make sure that she makes the most of that trip by kicking on in regional cricket.

“It taught me a lot about myself personally but also a lot about cricket,” she said.

“It was just the best three months. The experiences on and off the field, the people I met – great friendships made, it was just amazing. It’s hard to put into words how good it was.

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Leah Dobson bats for the Diamonds last summer. 

“I’d never been out before, it was my first time, and I was made to feel so welcome. It ended up being way better than I was expecting it would be. 

“It was a life-changing experience.

“I flew out knowing nobody at all apart from the head coach at the Dolphins, who I’d been in contact with a couple of times. I lived on my own in a little apartment which was 50metres from the beach.”

Scarborough-born Dobson batted in the top order in both T20 and 50-over cricket for the Dolphins and chipped in with some handy pace bowling when required. 

“I hadn’t bowled in a few years, so neither myself or the coach knew what to expect,” she explained. “They had quite a few bowlers, so I didn’t think I’d bowl that much. But I ended up bowling a few overs of pace to help the team out.

“It’s something I can develop in the background here at the Diamonds and hopefully bring it into my game properly in a couple of years if things go well.

Leah Dobson

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Leah Dobson is heading to Mumbai with the Diamonds this evening. 

“With the bat, I felt very comfortable and feel like I’ve grown as a player.”

Dobson hopes to transfer the positive attitude her Australian team-mates had for the game into her own game in both the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and the Charlotte Edwards Cup.

“It was really refreshing, and it just taught me to be relaxed and free – not worry about things too much,” she said. 

And the 2022 RHFT champion also enjoyed the extra responsibility of being an overseas pro in the Dolphins set-up.

“Going from this environment at the Diamonds into theirs, I was almost a role-model who they looked up to given I’m a professional. That helped me grow as a person,” she continued. 

“I had a different role batting at three and bowling, and I was vice captain for one of the games, which I really enjoyed.”

Northern Diamonds' Lauren Winfield-Hill and Leah Dobson punch gloves during their innings against Western Storm.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com. Lauren Winfield-Hill (l) and Leah Dobson congratulate each other on a half-century stand in last summer’s Charlotte Edwards Cup. Winfield-Hill will link up with the Diamonds in Mumbai. 

Dobson enjoyed an encouraging season for the Diamonds last year, posting a trio of 40 plus scores across both T20 and 50-over cricket, including her regional best of 68 not out in the RHFT win over Western Storm at Taunton in September.

In T20 cricket, she opened the batting, whereas in the 50-over campaign she largely batted at six and seven. 

In that Storm innings, she batted at four, which was more of a replica of her Australian spell.

“It made me a lot more patient, waiting for the ball a lot more. Usually, I’m an aggressive batter, but I had to adjust my game out there,” she said.

“I’m probably not likely to bat that high up in 50-over games for the Diamonds, so things will depend on the scenarios I face when I go in. But if I do get in a bit earlier, then I can definitely use my learnings from the Dolphins.”

Dobson has her passport out once again. Tonight, she flies to India with her Diamonds team-mates on the region’s pre-season tour. They will arrive at their Mumbai base tomorrow morning before returning to Headingley on Tuesday 26 March.

“It’s going to be a big 10 or 11 days for us as a squad, to put our winter’s work into practice and to bond and grow. Hopefully then we can get stuck into the season and win a trophy or two.”

Safe to say, if Dobson enjoys it as much as she did in Australia, then it will be quite the trip.

Diamonds squad for Mumbai: Leah Dobson, Rebecca Duckworth, Katherine Fraser, Abi Glen, Grace Hall, Sterre Kalis, Beth Langston, Katie Levick, Emma Marlow, Lizzie Scott, Rachel Slater, Phoebe Turner, Sophia Turner, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Jess Woolston.

Backroom staff: Dani Hazell, Tom Cant, Matt Anderson, Jo Knowles, Lizzie Dillam.

*Lauren Winfield-Hill will link up with the squad once she has completed her TV commentary duties at the ongoing Women’s Premier League event, which concludes in India on Sunday.

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