Inspired by Thommo, teenage quick Illingworth eyes record WBBL speeds

Alastair Cook announces retirement from professional cricket

Milly Illingworth spent her childhood copying old Jeff Thomson videos and now the Melbourne Stars teenager wants to reach speeds no woman has reached before.

One of the few bright lights for the stars in a largely disappointing WBBL campaign, the 18-year-old Illingworth has turned heads with his blistering pace in his rookie season.

Short in stature but big on pace and bounce, Illingworth’s first ball in the WBBL clocked 121km/h last month and he has regularly speeded up his rivals since.

The question now is how fast can Illingworth go?

But Illingworth believes it is possible and is confident he still has plenty of speed left.

“Even though I don’t really like speed guns, it’s something I’d like to achieve,” the teen said. “I think if I work in the gym and in the off-season, I hope I can get there with a little more fluid technique. I hope to grow… I hope to continue to get faster.”

Illingworth lists Ismail as one of his heroes given the way he can bowl at high speed while operating at a similar height.

But it is Thomson whose action has had the biggest impact on her career, after Illingworth studied old videos of him as a child to help her hone her technique.

Thomson is widely regarded as one of the fastest bowlers in history and was the first to record speeds over 160 km/h in 1975.

“My father started YouTube when I was young and that’s how it started,” Illingworth said. “To get him to stop bowling with a bent arm and no balls, he told me: ‘He bowls like Jeff Thomson and you won’t have that problem.'”

A side-by-side shot of Illingworth and Thomson did the rounds during last year’s Under-19 World Cup, and the similarities were striking in the youngster’s charge.

It’s also present in his mental approach to bowling.

“I just try to run and throw as fast as I can, no matter what the outcome is, no matter where I go,” Illingworth said. “I try to keep my head pretty clear about what I’m trying to do and that’s run and bowl fast.”