Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars coach Matthew Mott says selectors face an incredibly tough task choosing the squad to compete for an unprecedented fourth straight World T20 title next month, after a large number of players put their hands up this summer.
The national selectors will tomorrow announce the squads for this month's ODI and T20 tour of New Zealand and a 15-player roster for next month's Women's World T20 in India.
There were 13 players chosen in the T20 squad that lost 2-1 to India in January, meaning at least two additional spots need to be filled for the World T20.
Quick single: India too strong for Southern Stars
"I think that it has become very apparent just how tough it is (to decide), because we've got a number of players putting their hands up for selection in that final 15," Mott told cricket.com.au.
"There are going to be a couple of disappointed girls who've played some really good cricket but who unfortunately just haven't been able to fit into the 15.
"I don't envy the job of the Chairman of Selectors Shawn Flegler, but there's so much cricket coming up over the next few years, while those players will be disappointed there's still so much opportunity coming up to show what they've got."
The Southern Stars will also be sweating on the fitness of wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy, who suffered a possible left hamstring injury early the second innings at Blundstone Arena on Sunday, taking no further part in the match as a precaution.
After the T20 series loss to India, Mott said settling on an opening partnership was the "most important" task ahead of the tournament, with Beth Mooney seemingly staking a claim on one spot, while a long list of candidates could fill the other.
Quick Single: Wanted: Southern Stars' opening bat
In addition to current squad members Healy, Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning, Jess Jonassen and Grace Harris, who have all opened in T20Is, several batters from outside the 13-player group that took on India have pressed claims.
Elise Villani, left out of the team to play India after averaging 15.66 in the Perth Scorchers first 11 matches, bounced back strongly in the latter parts of the Rebel Women's Big Bash League, posting unbeaten scores of 72 and 43. She's since continued that form in grade cricket, scoring 126 for Midland-Guildford Cricket Club, and has experience having opened for the Southern Stars on 37 occasions in T20s and ODIs.
Australia one-day opener Nicole Bolton also put forward a case with her 74-ball 77 in the second ODI against India in Hobart.
Watch: Bolton blazes 77 in second ODI
Top-order batting aside, there will be other questions selectors will need to ponder.
Talented young left-arm quick Lauren Cheatle has a big future ahead of her after debuting in the second T20 in Melbourne, but the 17-year-old has just commenced year 12, so her availability for almost two months of overseas travel remains to be seen.
Should she not be available, a door could be opened for 31-year-old Julie Hunter – called into Australia's squad as cover for Sarah Coyte this week after the latter returned home due to a medical issue – who was very impressive with the new ball and at the death for the Hobart Hurricanes during the WBBL, collecting 16 wickets at 16.68 with an economy rate of 4.85.
Meanwhile, leg-spinner Kristen Beams only missed out on a place in the T20 squad against India because she was recovering from a dislocated thumb, so she should be set for a return to the 20-over set-up.
While Australia already have plenty of spin options at hand, with Beams' leggies and the off-spin options of allrounders Jess Jonassen and Grace Harris, there are a host of options both experienced and young to choose from, should the Southern Stars look to add to their spin stocks for India.
Ashes squad member and off-spinner Erin Osborne, left out of the side to play India, impressed for the Sydney Thunder at the business end of the WBBL, named player of the final for her 3-21.
Another two young tweakers, 23-year-old off-spinner Molly Strano and 18-year-old leg-spinner Amanda Wellington, have also caught the eye of selectors, chosen in the inaugural Governor-General's XI after their strong WBBL campaigns.
"It's going to be a very strong 15 with a lot of balance in there and a lot of different bowling options," Mott said.
"We've got pretty much every type of bowler covered in the squad and it's good to have that luxury.
"The beauty of our team is that we've got three genuine allrounders (Ellyse Perry, Jonassen and Harris) in the top six, which gives us amazing flexibility to adjust to different conditions and different opposition."
New Zealand have already announced their squads to take on Australia, with five players who took part in the Rebel Women's Big Bash League named in the White Ferns' ODI and T20 squads.
Perth Scorchers allrounder Suzie Bates will skipper both the ODI and T20 sides, while Sophie Devine (Strikers), Sara McGlashan (Sixers), Rachel Priest (Renegades), Amy Satterthwaite (Hurricanes) have been named to play in both formats.
Lea Tahuhu, who played for the ACT Meteors in the Women's National Cricket League late last year, has also been named in both squads.
White Ferns ODI squad: Suzie Bates (c), Erin Bermingham, Sophie Devine, Leigh Kasperek, Katey Martin, Sara McGlashan, Thamsyn Newton, Morna Nielsen, Katie Perkins, Rachel Priest, Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu.
White Ferns T20 squad: Suzie Bates (c), Erin Bermingham, Sophie Devine, Leigh Kasperek, Felicity Leydon-Davis, Katey Martin, Sara McGlashan, Thamsyn Newton, Morna Nielsen, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu.
Southern Stars v White Ferns ODIs:
February 20 at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, 8.30am AEDT
February 22 at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, 8.30am AEDT
February 24 at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, 8.30am AEDT
Southern Stars v White Ferns T20s:
February 28 at Basin Reserve, Wellington, 10.10am AEDT
March 1 at Basin Reserve, Wellington, 2pm AEDT
March 4 at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, 2pm AEDT