As a child Alex Blackwell had a dream she hardly dared to believe was possible: to become a professional cricket player.
Not because she wasn’t talented – she had potential very early on – but because she didn’t see a pathway to become one.
For a young Alex growing up in the 1980s and ’90s, women’s cricket at a high level existed, but it wasn’t a full-time job.
Fast-forward a couple decades and the 34-year-old is now one of Australia’s best cricketers and has been able to make a living from her chosen sport alone for several years.
In October, Blackwell became the fourth woman ever to play 250 games for Australia - a significant achievement in the batsman's already sparkling career.
It's a milestone, she told Sky Australia journalist Kalika Mehta, that she didn't imagine she'd achieve.
"I probably didn't believe I would be a professional cricketer but I dreamed I would be," she said in November.
"I thought it would be wonderful to be able to train in the sunshine during the day, go home, have a good night's rest and come back and do it again the next day."
While pursuing cricket, the Sydney Thunder captain also focused on her education and built a career in medicine that allowed her to support herself for much of her career.
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In 2014, she was able to make the switch to focus on cricket full-time, when the first professional contracts for the Australian female players were introduced. While she was only taking home $15,000 per annum then, it was enough for her to support herself, thanks to her partner's salary.
"I felt like I owed it to [past female players] to really give it a shot. Many women would have given an arm and a leg to have that opportunity," she told Sky Australia. "I'm pleased I made that decision in 2014 because I've become a better cricketer since."
The rate of female cricketer's pay has only improved over the past few years, with players at all levels earning more, and international players making a decent living.
"I feel really privileged to be able to capitalise on all the work that has been done before me to get to me to the stage of being a professional cricketer," Blackwell said.
But as much as the athlete has always felt support from Cricket Australia to play the sport she loves, the same can't be said for her country and the woman she loves.
Blackwell and her wife Lynsey Askew married in England in September 2015 and had to wait more than two years for their marriage to be recognised in Australia when same-sex marriage was finally legalised in December.
After meeting through cricket - Askew is British and has represented her country - the pair dated for seven years before they wed in front of family and friends.
A few months ahead of the wedding, Blackwell told the Sydney Morning Herald how disappointed she was that her marriage wouldn't be recognised, and expressed how important she felt marriage equality was.
"It's something I've thought about as an issue for many, many years," she said at the time.
"Even as a young person, when I didn't believe marriage was important to me...what I did know as a young person was marriage inequality sent a message that you're not quite good enough, you're not quite equal to others.
"That message from society...that you don't quite deserve the same rights...sends a very dangerous message to young gay people coming to grips with their own sexuality at a difficult time of their lives."
Back on the field, Blackwell is relishing her third year captaining the Sydney Thunder in the Women's Big Bash League. This season so far she's made 339 runs and lead her team to 10 wins, securing them up a spot in this season's finals.
After taking home the winner's trophy in the WBBL's inaugural season but missing out last year, Blackwell and the rest of the Thunder will be hoping to replicate the success of 2016 and take out the tournament once again.
The WBBL finals kick off on the 1st of February. To buy tickets, click here or see below:
Thursday 1 February at Optus Stadium, Perth
Friday 2 February at Adelaide Oval