RAINFORD cricketer Ellie Threlkeld has been named as the new captain of North WestThunder as they prepare to start their 2022 season.

Wicketkeeper Threlkeld, 23, takes over the leadership reigns from Alex Hartley and will skipper Thunder for the first time this Saturday away to Southern Vipers in the Charlotte Edwards Cup.

Regional Director of Women’s Cricket, David Thorley, said: "After Alex’s decision to stand down, Ellie was the outstanding candidate after leading the side excellently out in Dubai and following her experiences with England A in Australia this winter. "We wish her all the best."

Threlkeld started playing cricket at the age of nine before representing the Lancashire County Age Groups at Under 11s, and was captain of the Under 13s side that won the County Championship.

She was part of the Under 17 team that won the Royal London Girls Under 17 County Cup in 2015 and was named Lancashire's junior player of the year for girls in 2014 aged 15, and in 2016 when 17 years-old.

Threlkeld made her senior debut for Lancashire Women in the 2013 T20 Midlands/North Division Final, and her 50-over bow followed in 2014. 

In 2021 she was picked to tour Australia with England's A team.

Threlkeld said: “It is a huge honour to be named as the new captain of Thunder and I cannot wait to lead the squad into the new season.

"I've played for Lancashire since I was 11 so to captain the club I've grown up at makes me so proud and I'm excited to get going."

Earlier this year, Threlkeld captained North West Thunder on a historic pre-season tour of Dubai alongside Lancashire's men's team and also took charge of Lancashire Women in their recent victory in the County Women's T20 competition.


"I've had a few leadership experiences this year so I've had a little bit of practice," she said. "It went pretty well in Dubai and all the girls seemed to be pretty positive about my leadership and I got some good feedback.

"I've made it pretty clear to the coaching staff over the last few years that it was something in my aspirations so when Alex stepped down I was probably someone they considered.

"I'd done it in Dubai when Alex wasn't there and I was vice captain last year so it's worked out well.

"It's probably easier at senior level because the bowlers set their own fields!"

Hartley will stay play for Thunder this season when her media committments allow while ECB centrally contracted players, Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone, will also be available for selection around their international appearances with England throughout the summer. 

"Alex was brilliant as our captain," she said. "Both me and the girls learned a lot from her. She'll play a vital part in helping me and it's great that she'll still be around this year to help me and I'll probably take a lot of advice from her when I'm in the pitch. 

"She was very knowledgable in the way she led and read the game and she's played a lot of international cricket. 

"Her media career helped her know our opposition inside out and I think that'll help me in knowing the players and their skills."

Threlkeld insists she will lead from the front as Thunder captain and will set an example on and off the field. 

"One of my strengths as a leader is the way I role model behaviours," she said. "I'm probably always the first one at training and the last to leave.

"I work really hard and demonstrate behaviours I want the rest of the team to follow. Leading by example is one of my strengths - there are a lot of tactics to the job and that's something I'm going to learn as I go through the process.

"So far I think I've done alright and hopefully I can just keep getting better."

Ellie, who attended Bleak Hill Primary School and Rainford High, accepts that captaining and wicket keeping may put pressure on her game but she is seeing the positives.

"It did go through my head and I wouldn't have wanted to do it if that was the case but so far it hasn't," she said. "I actually think it might help me and give me a bit more confidence and responsibility.

"Obviously you have to put the team first and to keep trying to win games for them.

"Batting is the area of my game I'm trying to get better at and I've worked really hard again this winter."

As for the season ahead, Threlkeld is confident Thunder can prosper under her leadership.

She said: "There is an exciting blend of players within the squad now with seven full-time pros, two England players, plus an up-and-coming crop of youngsters who will all play their part throughout the summer.

“Our performances in 2021 have given us added belief and we are determined to be challenging in the latter stages of both the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint trophy this summer.

"The girls have worked really hard all winter and showed moments of brilliance in Dubai. I came back into that group after being away with England A in Australia and I saw some unbeliveable progress. 

"People are feeling good and confident and hopefully we can deliver this season."

Threlkeld is still determined to turn out for Rainford when she can and was in the side who beat Sefton Park last weekend. 

"I love turning out for Rainford when I can," she added. "Our schedule is pretty busy with games and travel but I'll definately play when I'm available.

"Rainford have been brilliant - they're a great club with a great set of lads and I always enjoy playing with them."