Shelley Nitschke (born 3 December 1976) is a female cricketer who plays for South Australia and Australia. A left-handed batsman and left arm orthodox spinner, she is one of the leading all-rounders in the world.
Nitschke made her senior debut in the Women's National Cricket League (WNCL) for South Australia at the relatively old age of 24 in 2000–01. She started her career as a specialist batsman and had little effect in her first two seasons, scoring 191 runs at 12.73. Having only taken one wicket to this point, she began bowling regularly and took 13 at 25.38 over the next two seasons and scored 326 runs at 27.16.
During the 2004–05 WNCL season, Nitschke scored 144 runs at 36.00 and took ten wickets at 17.50 and was rewarded with selection in the Australian team for a One Day International(ODI) series in India. She did not have a successful initiation to international cricket and was in and out of the team, ending her debut series with 10 runs and a total of 1/99. Playing as a specialist bowler and batting in the lower-order, Nitschke was retained for the 2005 World Cup in South Africa. After being overlooked for the first two matches, she played in the remaining matches and took 11 wickets at 8.27 to establish herself as an international bowler. She claimed 2/14 in the final as Australia defeated India to win the World Cup without defeat. She only batted once because Australia's strong line-up was rarely threatened, scoring one run.
Nitschke made her Test debut in the subsequent tour of England, and showed her batting ability at international level, scoring 81 and 88 in the two Tests. She then took a record 7/24 in an ODI at Kidderminster. She returned home for the 2005–06 WNCL, scoring 287 runs and taking nine wickets and was retained for the home series against India and New Zealand, again used in the lower order. At the end of the 2006–07 season, the Australians played in a quadrangular tournament in Chennai and Nitschke batted in the upper-order for the first time, making 200 runs at 28.57 and top-scoring with 81, hermaiden ODI half-century, as Australia defeated New Zealand in the final. Since then, Nitschke has batted in the upper-order. During the 2007–08 season, Nitschke made three ODI half-centuries. At the start of the 2008–09 season, Nitschke struck 94 in a seven-wicket win over India, a new highest ODI score.
During the 2009 World Cup, Nitschke made 275 runs at 39.28 and took seven wickets at 28.14 at an economy rate of 3.45. Her best performance was an 87 and 3/43 in a group match against South Africa as Australia eventually came fourth after losing the third-place playoff to India.
In the inaugural Women's World Twenty20 in England in 2009, Nitschke made 130 runs at 32.50 and took five wickets at 17.80 at an economy rate of 5.56 as Australia were eliminated in the semi-finals by the hosts.
Having ended in the nineties on three previous occasions in the WNCL, Nitschke broke through for her maiden century, making two for the season and ending the competition with 486 runs. In the subsequent Rose Bowl series, she made her maiden international century, 113 not out in Invercargill, ending the eight ODIs with 343 runs at 57.16 and 12 wickets at 13.25.
Nitschke was named as the Australian Women's International Cricketer of the Year in both 2009 and 2010.