Former Australia off-spinner Erin Osborne says while she’d never say never to an international return, her focus is currently firmly fixed on helping the ACT Meteors breakthrough for a maiden Women’s National Cricket League title this summer.
The Meteors unveiled their 2017-18 WNCL squad on Wednesday, announcing the arrival of two handy interstate recruits – Erin Burns from Tasmania and former New Zealand international Hayley Jensen from Victoria.
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Also joining the Meteors this summer is talented young batter Clara Iemma, who represented NSW Metro at last summer’s Under-18 National Championships.
They join a Meteors squad which narrowly missed out on making the WNCL finals last summer and which boasts several of the country’s most promising young players in fast bowlers Maitlan Brown and Nicola Hancock who have both represented Australia A.
The Meteors are expected to unveil two more recruits in the coming days, while they will also field a new captain this summer after the retirement of Kris Britt, who will remain with the ACT as a batting coach.
"We’re excited with the way the squad’s come together,” Cricket ACT High Performance Manager Aiden Blizzard said.
"This is the first time in a long time the Meteors have been head hunted from other states. We had to fight hard to keep a couple of our girls.
"The squad is going to be very competitive internally.
"A title is what we’re looking for, but if we’re there or thereabouts, we’re really comfortable we’ll start to get some Australia A and Australia representatives."
Osborne, 28, last played for Australia during their tour of Sri Lanka last September and while she was named in the preliminary training group for the recent Women’s World Cup, she failed to make the final 15-player squad.
While Osborne – who finished runner-up behind Australian captain Meg Lanning for WNCL player of the season last summer – says she would still love to pull on the Australian jersey again, she’s also realistic, given the current wealth of spin-bowling talent vying for spots at international level.
"I'm still hoping for that to happen but I think to be realistic, that's a little bit off for me," Osborne said.
"My performances are purely based on ACT Meteors now, putting in good performances there. I'm one of those players that don't have a Big Bash contract at the moment.
"I need to have a solid first round to ensure I pick up a Big Bash contract and hopefully make my way into the Australian squad again."
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With no semi-finals in the WNCL, there is little room for error with the top two teams after six matches progressing to the final.
But Osborne said she would be disappointed if the Meteors couldn’t advance to what would be their first appearance in a WNCL final this season.
"We’ve got a real mix of youth and experienced players and we’re lucky to have players coming across this year from Melbourne and Tasmania as well, which I think will be a real boost to our squad and help bring through those young players such as Maitlan Brown and Nicola Hancock.
"If we don’t make finals this year I’ll be really disappointed."
Tasmania have also named their WNCL squad, featuring four newcomers.
With Burns departing for the ACT and former Australian seamer Julie Hunter retiring, the Roar have recruited Stefanie Daffara from NSW and signed locals Erin Fazackerley and Courtney Webb to their 2017-18 roster.
Laura Wright has also earned a full contract after playing for the Roar last summer.
"Both Fazackerley and Webb have consistently been improving their game through our pathways and thoroughly deserve their spots in the squad,” Tasmanian Roar Head Coach Julia Price said.
"It’s also great to be welcoming Stefanie Daffara who will provide us with some extra batting strength in the top order.
"The team has a really good mix of experienced players and some new up and coming players and we are looking forward to continuing to improve our performances in the WNCL after a couple of really good wins last year."
The WNCL season begins on October 6.
ACT Meteors squad (so far): Sam Bates, Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Nicole Goodwin, Nicola Hancock, Clara Iemma, Hayley Jensen, Claire Koski, Emily Leys, Katie Mack, Erin Osborne, Ange Reakes
Tasmania squad: Stefanie Daffara, Emily Divin, Erin Fazackerley, Katelyn Fryett, Corinne Hall, Brooke Hepburn, Isobel Joyce, Meg Phillips, Veronica Pyke, Celeste Raack. Georgia Redmayne, Courtney Webb, Laura Wright
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes Series
First ODI Allan Border Field, October 22
Brisbane Charity Partner: Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust
Second ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 26
Third ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 29
Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12
First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17
North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation
Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19
Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21
Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT