Sammy-Jo set to make Qld debut
AS a 17-year-old living and playing cricket in England, it would have been tempting for Sammy-Jo Johnson to get carried away on the social scene and lose sight of her dream of representing Australia.
Johnson, who now plays Lismore District first grade for Marist Brothers alongside the men, flew to England last year on the trip of a lifetime.
She did not let herself down.
Over there she played for North-West Cumbria in Northern League first grade and Under-17 teams.
The Northern NSW branch of the Lord's Taverners, with Adam Gilchrist's father Stan as chairman, helped fund the trip.
And it was well worth it because Johnson, an all-rounder, was a big hit in the Old Dart - she compiled just under 1000 runs and took more than 60 wickets in five months.
And tomorrow she will step out to represent Queensland Fire against the ACT Meteors at Allan Border Field in a Twenty20 match.
It will be Johnson's debut in the Women's National Cricket League.
"To go to a foreign country and score just under 1000 runs and take 60 wickets changed my career," she said.
"I didn't go over there to get caught up in the social scene, I just focused on my cricket."
With her confidence soaring, Johnson returned and set the Brisbane women's first grade competition alight.
That sealed her selection for the Fire.
"I've been back playing women's first grade for Western Suburbs and to be picked for Queensland just three weeks into the competition is very exciting," she said.
Johnson said the demands of being an all-rounder and playing alongside the men in Lismore had not worried her.
"Being an all-rounder has never been a burden," she said.
"I feel like I'm bowling very well at the moment.
"I took 5-12 (in her first game back from England for Wests) and for Brothers I can bowl up to 17 overs a day. Bowling for a long time is just a habit."
Johnson will not be daunted by the big occasion tomorrow.
"I started playing cricket as an 11-year-old and ever since I've wanted to play at a high level," she said.
"Playing in England gave me my opportunity and now it's about taking the next step - it's about pushing hard to play for Australia."
Johnson came to notice in 2009 when she dismissed former Australian batsman Michael Bevan in a Lismore Invitation XI v Australian Cricketers' Association XI fixture at Oakes Oval, Lismore.