Australia’s T20 squad to defend title
The world's No.1 women's cricket team - Australia - has unveiled its 15-player squad that will strive for glory when the ICC Women's T20 World Cup starts next month.
The team includes the world's No. 1 ranked T20 bowler in Megan Schutt, the world's No.1 ranked allrounder in Ellyse Perry and big-hitting Alyssa Healy who in October smashed the world record for the highest score in women's T20 cricket, when she notched up an unbeaten 148 from 61 balls against Sri Lanka.
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Stalwart Meg Lanning is back as the team's captain, supported by her vice, Rachael Haynes.
Australia are favourites going into the event, and are the reigning World T20 champions, having beaten England in the final in the Caribbean in 2018.
The World Cup, to be held at cricket grounds across Australia culminating in the final on March 8 at the MCG, sees Australia take on India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and New Zealand in the pool rounds.
Prior to the World Cup - that starts on February 21 - the side will contest a Tri-Series against England and India, which pits three of the top four ranked teams in the world against each other.
National selector Shawn Flegler said it had been incredibly difficult side to pick the side.
"We feel we've got great cover for all teams and scenarios," he said.
"The Tri-Series will be the perfect warm-up against two of the best sides in the world and will give the team the chance to finalise its preparations ahead of the World Cup.
"For most players this was one of the biggest selections of their career with not many people getting to play in a World Cup in front of a home crowd, but we're really confident this squad can go out and defend its title and do Australia proud."
A number of big names have missed out - most notably Molly Strano, Tahlia McGrath, Belinda Vakarewa and Heather Graham - but Flegler said their omissions illustrated the depth of Australian Cricket.
"All four of these players are really unlucky to miss out but at the same time could come into the side at any stage and play a role," he said.
Teenage allrounder Annabel Sutherland, 18, has been named after a successful WBBL05 campaign with the Melbourne Stars as well as playing in both Australia A and Under 19 sides.
"She has progressed significantly over the past few months," Flegler said.
"Anyone who has seen her play will know how special a talent she is, and we know that if called upon she'll be able to play a variety of roles in the side.
This will be another terrific experience for someone who we see as the future of Australian Cricket."
Spin whiz Sophie Molineux has also been welcomed back into the side having spent time away from the game dealing with an injured shoulder as well as concentrating on her mental health.
"She was part of the side that won the 2018 World Cup and is a multiskilled player that offers us another left-arm spinning option alongside Jess Jonassen," Flegler said.
"Sophie made herself available for both tours and we'll continue to manage her health as we go along. Her health is our number one priority."
SQUAD: Meg Lanning - captain (Vic), Rachael Haynes - vice-captain (NSW), Erin Burns (NSW), Nicola Carey (Tas), Ashleigh Gardner (NSW), Alyssa Healy (NSW), Jess Jonassen (Qld), Delissa Kimmince (Qld), Sophie Molineux (Vic), Beth Mooney (Qld), Ellyse Perry (Vic), Megan Schutt (SA), Annabel Sutherland (Vic), Tayla Vlaeminck (Vic), Georgia Wareham (Vic)
CommBank T20 Tri-Series
February 1 - vs England, Manuka Oval (2.10pm AEDT)
February 2 - vs India, Manuka Oval (2.10pm AEDT)
February 8 - vs India, Junction Oval (2.10pm AEDT)
February 9 - vs England, Junction Oval (2.10pm AEDT)
ICC Women's T20 World Cup Warm-Up
February 15 - vs West Indies, Allan Border Field (3pm AEDT)
February 18 - vs South Africa, Karen Rolton Oval (11am AEDT)
ICC Women's T20 World Cup
February 21 - vs India, Sydney Showground (7pm AEDT)
February 24 - vs Sri Lanka, WACA Ground (6pm AEDT)
February 27 - vs Bangladesh, Manuka Oval (7pm AEDT)
March 2 - vs New Zealand, Junction Oval (3pm AEDT)
March 5 - Semi-Final 1, SCG (3pm AEDT)
March 5 - Semi-Final 2, SCG (7pm AEDT)
March 8 - Final, MCG (6pm AEDT)