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'I don't even enjoy talking about it because it's such a dark space' - Kimmince

Delissa Kimmince struck in her opening over Getty Images

Just talking about it takes Delissa Kimmince to a "dark space". But finding a way - via an English pub and another elite sporting career - to deal with the overwhelming expectation she once put on herself has ultimately brought her full circle to a place where she enjoys playing cricket again.

And why wouldn't she? The five-wicket star of Australia's victory in the second Ashes ODI against England earlier this month is on top of her game and looking to continue in the T20I series starting at Chelmsford on Friday.

But it wasn't always that simple. Now 30, Kimmince can look back on the wisdom of age and life experience outside cricket which has helped her fall back in love with the sport after divorcing it twice - the first time before she turned 20, having played 10 ODIs and one T20I up to early 2009 - and a brief flirtation with Australian Rules Football.

She joined the women's AFL for its inaugural season in 2017 shortly after stepping down as captain of of Women's Big Bash side Brisbane Heat. And while she played just one elite Aussie Rules game for Brisbane Lions Women in her home state of Queensland, she recognises how enviable her position was to be able to choose another sport entirely as a way of re-establishing her love of cricket for the second time.

"After the first year of the WBBL, I sort of felt myself sliding back into the wrong end of not liking cricket again," Kimmince told ESPNcricinfo. "Then I knew when that happened that I had to get away and try and refresh myself in the winter.

"I approached my coach and I said, 'I think the only way I can do that is if I go and play another sport and just mentally freshen up and get away from the game.' That's how I fell into the AFL scene. It was a great opportunity and I loved every minute of it and I think it's the reason why I'm back here enjoying it so much, because of what AFL did for me at that point in time.

"I was really lucky with Queensland Cricket and the Brisbane Lions ... they had a lot of communication and just understood where I was at and what I was trying to get out of being a part of both. It's funny when you look back on the things you do but if I hadn't had the experience previous to that to know that I was sort of going downhill again I could so easily not be in this position that I'm in today."

The first time Kimmince found herself hating cricket, she took a completely different road to getting away. She took a break entirely from the sport, moving to London to live and work in a pub in 2011. It was there that she found the inspiration to make her initial comeback.

"A few of the boys were playing local club cricket and they talked me back into playing," Kimmince said. "I ended up playing county cricket for Warwickshire and I was really lucky - the group of girls was really inviting and I didn't have any expectations.

"When you don't have that expectation and the pressure on yourself, you perform well and you have fun. When I went back to Australia I took that same approach. If I didn't take that break there's potential that I probably would have walked away from the game for good."

So how has her rich and varied experience changed her as a cricketer?

"I'm just more relaxed," Kimmince said. "When I was younger I played a little bit more on emotion and I put so much pressure on myself and I got so down. If I picked up one wicket I'd always focus on whatever the negative was. If I'd bowled a couple of wides then that's what I would focus on.

"It's really not even healthy. I think about it now and I don't even enjoy really talking about it just because it's such a dark space because you're never enjoying what you're actually doing.

"Whereas I look back now and it's completely different. I'm a lot more relaxed and I understand that cricket's one of those games where things don't always go your way."

When Kimmince resurrected her international career the first time, it was predominantly in T20s with just one ODI, against Pakistan in Brisbane, in 2014. She returned once more to the 50-overs format in February this year, against New Zealand in Adelaide, before playing all three one-dayers in England.

"We've got a group of girls that are enjoying their cricket as much as I've ever seen a group enjoying the game - it puts a smile on my face, whereas 10 years ago, it didn't" Delissa Kimmince

And, when things do go her way, like taking a career-best 5 for 26 as Australia defeated England by four wickets en route to a 3-0 sweep of their ODI series, medium pacer Kimmince is also careful not to make too much of the situation, describing it as "one of those days" where "everything works" and "lucky".

In truth, there was more than luck to it. Kimmince's ability to read the game and produce variations had England's batsmen struggling against her in that match. With Australia having retained the Ashes after the drawn Test, they will be looking to further assert their dominance of this tour in the three T20s, while England will be out to salvage something from a disappointing contest.

Either way, Kimmince is determined to enjoy herself.

"I'm really lucky, we've got a great group of girls at the moment too that are enjoying their cricket as much as I've ever seen a group enjoying the game," she said. "I think that's why we've had so much success lately and what makes it so enjoyable every single time you go to training or you walk out on the field for a game. It puts a massive smile on my face, whereas 10 years ago, it didn't."