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Teenage Star Illingworth eyes record WBBL speeds

Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS

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

One of the few shining lights for the Stars in a largely disappointing WBBL campaign, 18-year-old Illingworth has turned heads with her raw pace in her rookie season.

Short in stature but big on pace and bounce, Illingworth's first ball in the WBBL registered at 121km/h last month and she has regularly hurried up rivals ever since.

The question now is how fast can Illingworth go?

South African Shabnim Ismail has the highest recorded speed in the women's game at 128km/h, with no reliable indicator of a quick having yet reached the 130-mark.

But Illingworth believes it is possible, confident there is still a lot of speed left in her.

"Even though I don't really look at speed guns, it's something I'd like to achieve," the teenager said.

"I think if I put my work in the gym and the off-season, I think I can hopefully get there with a bit of a smoother technique.

"I hope to grow ... I hope I'm still getting quicker.

Illingworth lists Ismail as one of her heroes given the way she is able to bowl at speed while operating at a similar height.

And, unsurprisingly, fellow slingers Shaun Tait and Lasith Malinga are other players Illingworth has looked up to.

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 iron out her technique.

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

"My dad pulled up YouTube when I was young and that's how it started," Illingworth said.

"To stop me bowling with a bent arm and no balls, he said, 'Bowl like Jeff Thomson and you won't you won't have that problem'."

A side-by-side shot of Illingworth and Thomson did the rounds during last year's under-19s World Cup, and the similarities were striking in the youngster's load up.

It's there in her mental approach to bowling too.

"I just try and run in and bowl as fast as I can, no matter what the outcome is, no matter where it goes," Illingworth said.

"I try and keep a  pretty clear head on what I'm trying to do and that's run and bowl fast."