Mack's selection delight soured as COVID comes home

ACT in-form batter Katie Mack remaining hopeful she'll still be able to play a role in the Australia A series in Adelaide after COVID thwarted her best efforts to avoid the virus

Just days after receiving the call she had been longing for, Katie Mack got the news she had been dreading.

The ACT opening batter, who was this morning named in the Australia A squad to meet England A this month, had done everything she could to avoid coming into contact with COVID-19 in recent weeks, even dodging cases within her own state squad.

"I reckon I'd have been safe from getting COVID from anyone in the last week, except my partner – and that's the person who got it," Mack told reporters on Wednesday.

"We found out last night, so I'm doing seven days isolation."

It means Mack will be unable to link up with her Australia A teammates in Adelaide on Monday as planned.

She has done a PCR test and still hopes to get the all-clear to arrive in South Australia ahead of the first 'A' game on January 21.

Mack's unbeaten 50 guides Strikers to victory

Mack said after getting "through all the tears" of disappointment the previous evening, she was now determined to take a positive attitude into the setback.

"I'd feel pretty lucky if I could still get there and play all the games, that's the best-case scenario," said Mack.

"Worst-case scenario is I test positive in a couple of days and have to do (another) seven days isolation from there.

"It's not ideal, but COVID's not ideal in anyone's life at the moment, so it would be pretty hard for me to say I've got it tough.

"I've got a home that I can isolate in and we're still healthy, I've just got to keep thinking about that," Mack said, adding she was confident of at least being back for the one-day 'A' matches in Canberra from January 28.

Mack smacks third unbeaten fifty in a week

Mack admitted the cloud of COVID that has been hanging over all players (as it is the majority of the general public) had been wearing, and said she planned to do what training she could while in isolation but was conscious of not pushing herself too hard should she fall ill.

The 28-year-old's selection came off the back of a stunning Weber WBBL campaign opening the batting for the Adelaide Strikers, where she finished second on the league runs table with 513 at an average of 64.12, and strike rate of 115.

It continued a shift in form that started last Big Bash season, when Mack struck two half-centuries in a campaign where the Strikers narrowly missed finals (having hit just one fifty across five previous seasons), and a 2020-21 one-day domestic campaign that saw her hit 418 runs at an average of 59.71.

That form had the right-hander a lock for the Australia A side, but with the series rapidly approaching and no phone call from selectors by late last week, Mack admitted she was starting to have her doubts.

"I got the call on Saturday … for a little bit there I thought maybe I hadn't been selected because I hadn't heard anything, and everyone was asking me (about it)," she laughed.

"For the last four or five years I've played cricket for enjoyment rather than worrying about selection … but it is hard when you've had a good season to not let those thoughts slip into your mind, so it was a nice call to get."

Mack has transformed herself from support act to lead actor across the past two summers and has put her form down to a few technical tweaks, alongside that more confident, carefree approach.

"People talk about batters in their late 20s hitting their peak and I think that comes from a lot of experience," she said.

"A few turning points for me were getting opportunities in the Big Bash.

"Last year's Big Bash I spent the whole start of the season thinking I was going to get dropped and I batted terribly.

"I thought I was up to my last game (with regular opener Suzie Bates due to return from injury), so I figured I might as well go out there and have a swing and show people what I've got.

"And it came off and I batted really well (scoring a 37-ball 50) so that was a bit of a turning point mentally for me."

Australia Ashes squad: Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes (vc), Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Meg Lanning (c), Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck

England Ashes squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Maia Bouchier, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones, Nat Sciver (vc), Anya Shrubsole, Mady Villiers, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Danni Wyatt

Australia A squad: Georgia Redmayne (c), Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Nicole Faltum, Tess Flintoff, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Phoebe Litchfield, Katie Mack, Courtney Sippel, Molly Strano, Elyse Villani, Georgia Voll, Amanda-Jade Wellington

England A squad: Emily Arlott, Lauren Bell, Alice Capsey, Alice Davidson-Richards, Georgia Elwiss, Kirstie Gordon, Eve Jones, Beth Langston, Emma Lamb, Bryony Smith, Ellie Threlkeld, Issy Wong

Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes v England

Jan 20: First T20, Adelaide Oval

Jan 22: Second T20, Adelaide Oval

Jan 23: Third T20, Adelaide Oval

Jan 27-30: Test match, Manuka Oval

Feb 3: First ODI, Manuka Oval

Feb 6: Second ODI, Junction Oval

Feb 8: Third ODI, Junction Oval

Australia A v England A

Jan 20: First T20, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide

Jan 21: Second T20, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide

Jan 23: Third T20, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide

Jan 28: First OD, Philip Oval, Canberra

Jan 30: Second OD, Philip Oval, Canberra

Feb 2: Third OD, Philip Oval, Canberra