After a frustrating summer dealing with injury and illness, promising young quick Lauren Cheatle is focusing on the positives, setting her sights on a one-day international debut in New Zealand.
The 18-year-old left-arm quick burst onto the international scene last summer, capturing the attention of selectors and fans alike with her form during the Sydney Thunder’s successful Rebel Women’s Big Bash League campaign.
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The result was a T20 International debut for the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars at the MCG and a spot in Australia’s World T20 squad which finished runners-up in India last April.
Her first Australian contract followed, but Cheatle’s cricket career has since hit a series of hurdles.
Juggling the demands of finishing Year 12 with life as an international cricketer, the then-17-year-old sat out Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka last September, before missing all but two matches of the 50-over Women’s National Cricket League season as she completed her exams.
School safely completed, Cheatle worked on building up her bowling loads, only to be struck down by illness that forced her to miss the NSW Breakers’ WNCL final victory over Queensland.
The effects of the illness also ruled her out of the Thunder’s first seven WBBL|02 matches, with Cheatle returning in the second half of the season and finding form in the later stages of the season.
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Picked in Australia’s T20 and ODI squads to take on New Zealand in late January, Cheatle then suffered a shoulder injury during training for those limited-overs series, forcing the Southern Stars to draft in fellow NSW quick Sarah Aley as cover for the T20 matches.
Cheatle has sat out the first two T20Is against the White Ferns, with the hosts opting to play four frontline spinners alongside medium pacer Megan Schutt, but she is a chance to return for the series decider at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday.
“Towards the end of the WNCL I got sick and missed the final, which was unfortunate, then I missed the start of the WBBL which I was really disappointed about,” Cheatle told cricket.com.au.
“I got back for the end of the season and played the last couple of games, which I was really happy with, but then I injured my shoulder so it’s been stop and start.”
“It’s been tricky, but there’s where your support network comes in.
“I’ve had a good playing group around me this whole time and they’ve been really supportive along with the staff and my family, so they’ve got my through it.”
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While she’s had a frustrating summer, Cheatle is confident her body is up to the demands of 50-over cricket should she be granted an ODI debut during Australia’s three-match tour of New Zealand, which begins in Auckland this coming Sunday.
With the Southern Stars to defend their 50-over World Cup title in England in June, Cheatle is also hoping to make a case for a spot in that squad, having taken the year off from any study commitments to focus on her cricket.
“I really enjoy playing one-day cricket," she said.
“I think the experience (in New Zealand) would stand me in really good stead for the World Cup in England, so I’m hoping to make that debut over there.”