|Event:||Australia Women in New Zealand 2016/17, New Zealand Women in Australia 2016/17|
DateLine: 31st January 2017
Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel has confirmed the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars Twenty20 and One Day International squads to face New Zealand in February.
Australia will host the White Ferns in a three-match T20 series beginning on February 17 at the MCG, before crossing the Tasman for the Rose Bowl Series, consisting of three ODIs.
Sydney Sixers all-rounder, Ashleigh Gardner is a chance to make her Australian debut in both the T20 and ODI arenas, while Melbourne Renegades off-spinner Molly Strano is a strong chance to make her National T20 debut.
The pair shone in the Rebel WBBL|02, with Gardner, 19, named the WBBL Young Gun following a breakout season with both bat and ball in which she produced a number of match-winning innings for the Sixers, finishing with 414 runs and claiming ten wickets.
Gardner’s selection follows an outstanding 12 months for the youngster, having captained the first Indigenous Australian women’s cricket team on their tour to India in May and was a member of the Governor-General’s XI that defeated South Africa in November.
Should Gardner make her Australian debut, she will become the first Indigenous woman to do so since Faith Thomas (née Coulthard) made her Test debut against England on 21 February 1958.
A former Commonwealth Bank Shooting Star, 24-year-old Strano has also been in career-best form, finishing the 2016/17 Women’s National Cricket League as leading wicket-taker with 13 wickets from six matches and finishing second on the list of wicket-takers in Rebel WBBL|02 with 21 wickets.
Sydney Thunder fast-bowler Lauren Cheatle has also been included in the squad for the first time since last year’s ICC Women’s Twenty20 World Cup, whilst Amanda-Jade Wellington has retained her spot in the side after making her debut against South Africa in November.
Commenting on the squad, National Selector Shawn Flegler said: “The NSP has been really impressed with the performances and consistency shown by both Ashleigh and Molly in the last six months and look forward to seeing what they can do on the big stage.
“Everyone involved in these squads had an impact for their various clubs in the WBBL and it’s pleasing to see them competing as such a high level.
“With the ICC Women’s World Cup taking place in England in June, this is a really important series as we finalise preparations for one of the biggest challenges in world cricket.”
The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars are ranked number 1 in the World (ICC Women’s rankings) and are the current holders of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2017 Cricket Australia)