Jemma Barsby is a young Australian cricketer with a zest for life. From growing up in a cricket royalty at home in Brisbane and playing a lot of backyard cricket with father Trevor Barsby and her siblings, she knew it was something she wanted to pursue at an elite level.
Having an unusual talent of being able to bowl with both arms, the 24-year-old used this to her advantage despite being discouraged from training her non-dominant arm. Professional training began when she was 15, making a debut with her local cricketing team, Queensland Fire. From there Jemma made the Australian A-side and one of her biggest achievements to date was winning the Women’s Big Bash League in 2018.
Jemma has recently made the move over to WA where she will play for the Perth Scorchers for the next two seasons. Jemma is grateful for the people in her life, and to her coach Andy Richards, who she says has been the real secret behind her success. Travelling the world has also been an added bonus for Jemma so far seeing New Zealand, England, Dubai and Sri Lanka as a part of her cricketing career.
After experiencing constant pins and needles throughout her body and having a shoulder injury that wouldn’t heal in 2014, Jemma knew it was time to seek professional medical advice. While at the time Jemma’s biggest worry was whether she’d need surgery or miss part of the season, she was shocked to be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Being diagnosed at the age of 19, Jemma experienced a range of emotions about her diagnosis. She felt confused, overwhelmed and fearful about what the condition could mean.
The early diagnosis meant her MS was discovered while she had few lesions and to date, the growth of these have been slowed by medication. As with anyone, Jemma experiences good and bad days but one symptom she struggles with most is heat, something common for those living with the condition. Being on the cricket field and being out in the sun isn’t ideal for Jemma and has been a challenge for her working outdoors.
In order to manage this, Jemma wears an ice vest to keep her cool and manage her body heat out on the field. Jemma is incredibly grateful for TechNiche ANZ for supplying her with these decked out in her team colours.
Life outside of cricket includes her love of coffee. Jemma currently works as a part-time barista, and her added ability of remembering names and coffee orders will make her an excellent café owner later down the track. While Jemma’s career keeps her incredibly busy, she still makes the time to get outdoors and enjoys activities such as camping and fishing.
Jemma doesn’t let her condition stop her from living life and doing the career she loves. She hopes to use her profile to create awareness and encourage other young people diagnosed with a neurological condition to continue to achieve goals and aspirations. She says the diagnosis has taught her not to take things for granted and that life is precious.
“If sharing my story inspires at least one young person diagnosed with MS or another neurological condition to keep giving life a good crack, then I’ll be happy.”