After a frustrating setback that derailed the early part of her summer, Australian leg-spinner Kristen Beams is fit, in-form and ready for New Zealand.
Beams was enjoying a stunning run of form last November when she fractured her right little finger playing for the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars against South Africa in Sydney.
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She was forced to undergo surgery, missing the final two one-dayers against the Proteas and the Melbourne Stars’ first seven matches of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League season as a result.
But the 32-year-old barely missed a beat upon her return, picking up 11 wickets at 12.63 in seven WBBL|02 matches, including hauls of 3-11, 3-11 and 3-12.
“It’s been really food to come back and play, anytime you have time away from the game with an injury you’re worried about whether you’ll be in good touch when you come back,” Beams told cricket.com.au.
“So to come back and do my job for the Melbourne Stars was really pleasing in the back end.
“Unfortunately there were no finals for us but it was nice to make a contribution in the lead up to this series.”
Beams’ golden run started in Sri Lanka last September, a tour which saw her take 16 wickets at an average of 5.50 across four ODIs and a sole T20.
“It was really disappointing (to get injured) as I wanted to have a good series at home after Sri Lanka," she said.
“So it was bad timing for me personally, but at the same time it was an opportunity to freshen up and hopefully that’ll help me now at this back end of the summer.”
Now, she’s hoping to produce the same results against fierce rivals New Zealand, who Australia will play in a three-match T20 series starting this Friday at the MCG, before a three-game ODI return leg across the Tasman.
One of the most exciting aspects of the upcoming matches is the opportunity for Beams to work in tandem with 19-year-old leggie Amanda-Jade Wellington, who made her international debut in place of her injured counterpart last November.
Wellington has been included in the Southern Stars squad alongside Beams and coach Matthew Mott has already indicated he’s keen to see the pair line up in the same XI.
“She’s an amazing talent, I’m looking forward to working with her and seeing how we can complement each other," Beams said.
“We’re pretty different, she turns the ball a long way and me not so much.
“So we’ve got a little bit to learn from each other, but the opportunity to bowl in tandem with another leg-spinner for Australia is really exciting, not just for us but for the team as well.”
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Australia is blessed with a wealth of slow-bowling talent at the moment and while Beams and left-arm spinning allrounder Jess Jonassen are certainties to be named in the XI on Friday, Wellington, off-spinner Molly Strano and off-spinning allrounder Ashleigh Gardner will also be among those battling it out for spots.
“In the WBBL, spin has been quite dominant, so to see more spinners in the Australian team is a good thing," Beams said.
“We’re all really diverse spinners as well, with Jess Jonassen opening the bowling and two leg-spin options, there’s a bit of everything.
“Molly Strano is like my little sister and she’s someone I love to work with, she’s one of the hardest workers going around and her bowling has just continued to develop.
“She’s a great power play option for Victoria and the Renegades, and hopefully now for Australia as well.”
The three T20s will be played as double-headers alongside the men’s KFC T20 INTL series against Sri Lanka, with all three matches to be broadcast live on Nine’s Wide World of Sports.
Australia v New Zealand T20s
17 February: MCG, Melbourne, 2.05pm AEDT
19 February: Kardinia Park, Geelong, 2.35pm AEDT
22 February: Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, 2.05pm AEDT
Australia v New Zealand ODIs
26 February: Eden Park No.2, Auckland, 9am AEDT
2 March: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, 9am AEDT
5 March: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, 9am AEDT