From a 6-0 lead to an eight-all finish, Australia’s recent tour of England was an eventful one earlier this year. Despite dominating subsequent series against Ireland and West Indies, uncertainties in roles have left the team in a bit of a puzzle as they gear up for a challenging all-format away series against India in December 2023 – January 2024.
Cricket Australia has unveiled the squad for their upcoming tour of India, with the inspiring return of star pacer Lauren Cheatle stealing the headlines after an impressive season in the ongoing 09 Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). In addition to the long-awaited inclusion of Cheatle, fit-again Heather Graham (calf injury) and the duo on the road to recovery Alyssa Healy (finger injury) and Darcie Brown (hamstring injury), also find a slot in the squad of 16.
Notably, the 203-game veteran Jess Jonassen, who was previously dropped from the Australian squad during the home Windies series, has rightfully seized another opportunity to prove her mettle. This comes after a decent WBBL season, accumulating 98 runs at a strike rate of 128.94 and claiming 10 wickets from 9 games so far. Fresh from a WBBL ton and timely runs, Grace Harris too secures her spot in the 16, though her place in the starting XI remains uncertain, as is the case with Megan Schutt.
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Australia's squad for India tour:
Lauren Cheatle (Test only)
Grace Harris (T20s only)
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) November 14, 2023
Australia’s squad for India tour:
Darcie Brown, Lauren Cheatle (Test only), Heather Graham, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris (T20s only), Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham
Lauren Cheatle’s journey is nothing short of inspiring. Debuting for Australia in 2016 aged 17, she represented the country in four ODIs and seven T20Is before injuries and illness disrupted her career. She has endured four shoulder reconstructions in the past six years, as well as back injuries, and has had melanoma removed from her lower leg.
However, Cheatle’s resilience shone through on Australia ‘A’s multi-format tour of England earlier this year, where she impressed with 11 wickets in five games. Now, feeling more confident in her body and bowling than ever before, Cheatle continued her stellar performance into the WBBL, emerging as the equal leading wicket-taker with 19 scalps at an impressive 13.68 in ten games for the Sydney Sixers.
While a lot has finally aligned in Cheatle’s favor, seasoned campaigners Georgia Redmayne and Amanda-Jade Wellington, yet again, run out of luck and face the axe despite being in good form. Not at her best following a return from injury, Redmayne has managed 172 runs at a strike rate of 117.00 from 8 WBBL games this season.
In the national team, Amanda contests her spot against frontline spinner Alana King more than Georgia Wareham, who gets the nod for her explosive batting abilities, an invaluable bonus. While Amanda has bagged 14 wickets from 9 games, maintaining an economy rate of 6.14, Alana King has claimed 13 wickets from 10 games at an economy rate of 6.42. It has been a difficult toss-up between the two, but it has always been Wellington who faces the axe.
Barring expected omissions of Georgia Wareham and Amanda-Jade Wellington, the non-selection of an X-factor for the series has surely come as a surprise. Joint highest wicket-taker (19) Sophie Day has had a breakout season following a few notable ones, and her left-arm spin could have proven lethal and rewarding in the series against India.
Following the retirement of the decorated player and leader Meg Lanning, Australia has not yet named a full-time captain, but the process is underway. A captain for the series is also yet to be named as Australia assesses the fitness and the duration of participation of opener and stand-in captain Alyssa Healy in the India series.
Australia Women’s tour of India 2023 Schedule:
|21-24-Dec-2023||One-Off Test||9:30 AM||
DY Patil Stadium