"Elite". "She does it with ease". "We're just waiting for her to hit the international stage".
Big Bash League champion Callum Ferguson has lauded Orange young-gun Phoebe Litchfield after her latest innings at the crease with the Sydney Thunder.
Litchfield produced a 32-ball 40 for the Thunder in Sunday's clash with the Women's Big Bash League big guns Brisbane Heat, the latter going on to win by five wickets after successfully chasing the 7-143 set by the lime greens at the Adelaide Oval.
The 18-year-old is currently completing her HSC commitments while on tour with the Thunder and Channel Seven's commentary team was gushing over Litchfield's text-book stroke play.
She shared in a 39-run stand with Indian opener Smriti Mandhana (37 from 24) and the commentary team, headed by another BBL legend in the form of Brad Hodge and Australian legend Lisa Sthalekar, said Litchfield would benefit big time from sharing time out in the middle with a player of the calibre of Mandhana.
But it was Ferguson who was impressed the most.
Litchfield used her feet against a Heat spinner and went aerial to bring up her first boundary of her innings.
"She'd be loving it, learning off the best out there in the middle," Hodge said.
She's going to be a superstar for the next decade.- Callum Ferguson on Phoebe Litchfield
"She has, the last two balls, spotted holes in the field and exploited it," Ferguson added.
"Look at the foot work. She's just punched over the top. It's elite. Not a lot of people have that ability. She does it with ease. She's got a huge future. We're all just waiting for her to hit the international stage."
Litchfield is one of handful of young stars in the Thunder ranks, with skipper Hannah Darlington just 19 herself.
It's meant the 2021-22 WBBL season has been a steep learning curve for the defending champions, and Sunday's loss to the Heat is another example of that.
The Thunder lost wickets at regular intervals, including Litchfield's, with the young Kinross Wolaroi gun's dismissal coming at the worst possible time as the Sydney club looked to build a strong total against the Heat.
The young left-hander was caught in the deep off wily spinner Poonam Yadav - her 3-17 also including the big wicket of Mandhana.
That made the score 5-99 with over five overs left, but the Thunder wasn't able to make the most of them.
A total sub-150 was never going to be enough, but the cricketing legends on deck to call the match saw enough of the Orange District Cricket Association product to look past the untimely dismissal.
The class and audaciousness - she executed back-to-back reverse sweeps off Jess Jonassen that both went for four - was enough for Hodge to label Litchfield's innings the best of her season.
"She backed her ability," he said.
"With good cricket shots, too," Ferguson added. "It was smart play, she used her twos to get ahead of the rate early in her innings.
"I can not wait to see her wear the green and gold. She's going to be a superstar for the next decade."
Both agreed the next step for Litchfield is to turn those starts into bigger scores. Her best score in the WBBL is 52 not out.
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