The Australia allrounder is making the most of her chance with the national team against New Zealand
Molineux making the most of her opportunity
Australia allrounder Sophie Molineux is embracing the pressure of her new responsibilities with the ball in the ongoing T20 series against New Zealand
With star spinner Jess Jonassen sidelined for the three-match Commonwealth Bank Women's T20 Series with a knee injury, fellow left-arm finger spinner Molineux has taken on the role usually played by the experienced Queenslander, opening the bowling and returning at the death.
It's a big task for the 21-year-old Victorian, who came into the series with just three T20Is under her belt, but Molineux is relishing the opportunity.
She was one of Australia's best bowlers in Saturday's opening T20I at North Sydney Oval, returning figures of 0-21 from her four overs.
On Monday in Brisbane, she fought back admirably after New Zealand star Suzie Bates struck 16 runs off her second over, returning at the death to allow just eight runs from her final 12 deliveries and picking up her maiden international wicket in the process.
"I've really enjoyed it, I've got a newfound respect for bowlers who bowl in the first six with two (fielders) out," Molineux said from Brisbane Airport on Tuesday.
"It's actually really hard and I've never put so much thought and effort into my plans until this series.
"So to be able to have the opportunity to bowl under the pump at the start and towards the end, I've enjoyed that. You have to have a thick skin when you're bowling in Twenty20 cricket at the moment and I'm learning, which is the important thing.”
Molineux couldn't ask for a better mentor on tour than Australia assistant coach and legendary left-arm spinning allrounder Shelley Nitschke.
The pair have been working closely together through the pre-season and the current series and Molineux believes her calming influence has helped her hold her nerve in the face of big-hitting New Zealand batters Bates and Sophie Devine.
"She's been really good, she's a really calm head so I think that's the best thing to have around in this situation when you can go for 16 runs one over and then come back and have to bowl tight the next, she's been really good on that front.”
The Victorian also had a chance to catch up with Jonassen at Monday's second game at Allan Border Field, with the Brisbane local dropping in to support her teammates.
"It looks like she's going really well and we miss her around the squad, but I had a chat to her and she was really open," Molineux said.
"We've had some really good discussions about left-arm off-spin and I'm really lucky to be in squad alongside her and learning off her."
Molineux picked up her first international wicket on Monday, removing inventive New Zealand lower-order batter Bernadine Bezuidenhout in the 18th over.
"It was pretty cool, it was towards the back end of the innings and I was just trying to hit the crease and to get that wicket was the monkey off the back," she said. "To get that first international wicket was pretty cool, Midge (Alyssa Healy) had me in a headlock and messed up my hair."
While Molineux is being called upon to stand up with the ball, she's yet to have much of an opportunity to display her talents with the bat.
She opens the batting for Victoria and the Melbourne Renegades but with a talent-packed Australian batting order that sees the world's top-ranked ODI batter Ellyse Perry listed at No.7, for now Molineux is content to sit back and take in the show.
"To be honest I'm loving watching people do their thing," she said. "To be able to learn and sit there next to Rachel (Haynes) and Pez (Perry) and be able to analyse the game, I'm learning heaps just watching the girls go about their business.
"I'm quite happy to be getting pad rash at the moment."
Australia will be looking to seal a series whitewash when they meet New Zealand in the third and final T20I at Canberra's Manuka Oval on Friday at 7.20pm AEST.
CommBank T20 INTLs v NZ
September 29: First T20I, North Sydney Oval, Sydney
October 1: Second T20I, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
October 5: Third T20I, Manuka Oval, Canberra
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
New Zealand squad: Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Sophie Devine, Kate Ebrahim, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Katey Martin, Amy Satterthwaite (c), Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin