Several injury concerns and a host of players putting their hands up with strong domestic form have left Australian selectors with plenty to consider ahead of this month’s Commonwealth Bank Women’s ODI series against New Zealand.
Australia’s squad to meet the White Ferns in three ODIs beginning at the WACA Ground on February 22 is expected to be revealed this week, before the team gathers in Perth next Monday.
No major changes are likely for the No.1 ranked Australians, who claimed a 3-0 series win against Pakistan in their most recent 50-over series last October.
But there are several clouds hanging over Meg Lanning’s team, while the fact the 14-player group who travelled to Malaysia to meet Pakistan was identical to November’s T20 World Cup touring party – selectors opting for consistency leading into the major tournament – could see some tweaks made.
This series is Australia’s last before July’s multi-format Ashes campaign in England and with 24 months remaining before the next 50-over World Cup is held in 2021, it’s also a chance for selectors to consider the future.
One injury worry is batter Elyse Villani, who missed the end of the Scorchers’ Big Bash campaign and the final round of the 50-over domestic competition due to a hamstring injury, but was expected to be fit in time to face New Zealand.
Another concern is young quick Tayla Vlaeminck, who was ruled out of the Big Bash season due to a knee injury, with selectors unlikely to hurry the injury-prone right-armer’s recovery, while it remains to be seen whether ODI opener Nicole Bolton will be available after she missed the back-end of the WBBL and WNCL seasons for personal reasons.
One likely inclusion is left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen, who missed the October ODIs as she recovered from a knee injury but then re-joined her national teammates in time for the T20 World Cup.
Among others putting their hands up for inclusion in Australia’s one-day squad is WA and Scorchers allrounder Heather Graham, who was on Monday crowned the domestic player of the year at the Australian Cricket Awards and who topped the WBBL|04 wickets tally and the WNCL runs table.
Leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington could be in line for a recall after collecting 10 wickets at 19.30 during the 2018-19 WNCL season, while Heat and Queensland allrounder Sammy-Jo Johnson could be rewarded for a breakout summer of domestic cricket.
Left-arm quick Lauren Cheatle is another likely to be considered after a strong finish to the WNCL season for NSW that included collecting 2-24 and 4-42 in the final round.
Speaking to cricket.com.au last month, Australia coach Matthew Mott suggested the bulk of the playing group would remain unchanged, although the selection panel would cast a watchful eye across the candidates impressing in the WBBL and WNCL.
“Our one day and T20 teams are pretty similar at the moment,” Mott said.
“That’s not to say there won’t be others considered from outside (that group) but we’re also comfortable with that squad we took away (to Malaysia and the T20 World Cup) as a 15.
“It’s pretty clear they’re our best 15 at the moment and we’ve got to cut down that group so there’ll be some tough decisions to be made there.”
Possible Australia ODI squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Georgia Wareham
CommBank ODIs v NZ
February 22: First ODI, WACA Ground, Perth
February 24: Second ODI, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
March 3: Third ODI, Junction Oval, Melbourne