The Perth Scorchers have announced the signing of Hong Kong captain Wing-Ki (Emma) Lai as the Club’s Associate Rookie for Rebel WBBL|02.
Lai’s Cinderella story had her first introduced to cricket while working as a waitress at the Hong Kong Cricket Club.
The 28-year-old right arm medium pace bowler took part in a staff cricket course, which resulted in an invitation to train and play with the development squad.
Lai’s rise in the Hong Kong cricketing system has been swift, having been named captain of the national team just two years after making her senior debut.
She is set to join the Scorchers in the second-half of the upcoming WBBL|02 season as part of the Associate Rookie initiative, which is a joint program in its second year between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Cricket Australia to provide players from Affiliate Members nations a development opportunity with top-tier countries.
Lai said joining the Scorchers would be great opportunity to take her game to the next level.
“Joining a foreign club for the first time, I feel both anxious and excited,” said Lai.
“I am eager to be able to improve my skills and to interact with cricket-loving kids in Australia.
“Australian cricketers Sarah Coyte and Kristen Beams came to Hong Kong and played in the Hong Kong Premier league last May. They gave us a taste of what Australian women’s cricket is like.
“I am delighted that I can experience Australian cricket first-hand.”
Perth Scorchers WBBL head coach Lisa Keightley said the signing of Lai was an exciting addition to the squad.
“The Associate Rookie program is a great initiative by the ICC,” Keightley said.
“For Emma to come all the way from Hong Kong and experience the excitement of the Women’s Big Bash League will be great for her.
“Our current squad members will also benefit from having a different perspective around the group, it’s a win-win.
“The fact we’re able to attract the captain of the Hong Kong women’s team shows how much the Women’s game has grown around the world.”
The Associate Rookie program for WBBL|02 will provide opportunities to players from Hong Kong, Ireland, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, China and Nepal.
In the event of an injury to a contracted player, the Clubs will be permitted to use their Associate Rookie as a local replacement player, which would not contribute to their overseas player limit.
Lai, who is expected to join the Scorchers from 11 January 2017, will follow in the footsteps of Ireland’s Laura Delany, who last year joined the Scorchers as the Club’s inaugural Associate Rookie.