Selection for Australia’s Test squad comes after the 25-year-old thought ‘the green and gold was probably behind me’
Cheatle thought injuries had ended international career
Recalled quick Lauren Cheatle admits she thought her international cricket career was over amid a slew of shoulder reconstructions and a skin cancer diagnosis.
Cheatle was this week named in Australia's squad for the Test against India starting on December 21, which opens the multi-format tour of the country.
A genuine chance for a Test debut selection as the sole left-arm quick, Cheatle's call up marks her first appearance in a national squad since March 2019.
After debuting for Australia as a 17-year-old in the Twenty20 World Cup in 2016, Cheatle was sidelined through stress fractures and a shoulder reconstruction.
She returned to the national team in 2019, before a worse run of injuries hit.
The left-armer required three more shoulder reconstructions, unable to string together consistent cricket until finding fitness against last summer.
"I did think the green and gold was probably behind me," 25-year-old Cheatle said.
"Not that I wanted to stop trying. But I think the game has moved so far ahead and you can see the talent coming through is getting better and better.
"They (Australia) are one of the best teams in world sport, not just cricket."
Cheatle admitted there were times during that stretch when she contemplated giving cricket away, before finding support from teammates, family and friends.
The most difficult period came in 2021, when the Bowral junior was diagnosed with early-stage skin cancer in June, after noticing a lump on her leg.
Further tests revealed the cancer had not spread, but the operation did prevent her from bowling for four months.
And on her return to cricket, she injured her shoulder again while in the field and required the fourth reconstruction of her career – making it two on each shoulder.
"That was pretty difficult," Cheatle said.
"That was just more a really scary point in my career, one I never thought I'd face.
"It really readjusted the way that I thought about injuries and recovery.
"But then the frustration of another shoulder reconstruction after already going through three was was pretty major.
"It kind of felt like there was no point doing it again, if I was just going to re-hurt myself."
Ultimately, Cheatle stuck at it, returned last summer, impressed on an Australia A tour of England this year and is the equal-leading wicket-taker in this year's Weber WBBL.
She believes a Test call up in India would mean as much, if not more, than her 2016 T20 international debut, given what she has been through since.
Australia expect Alyssa Healy to be fit to play in the Test, while quick Darcie Brown will also recover from a hamstring injury in time.
If Healy is unfit for the four-day match in Mumbai, Beth Mooney will likely take the gloves.
A call on the captaincy will also be made before the Test, after Meg Lanning's retirement last week.
CommBank tour of India
December 21-24: Test match, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
December 28: First ODI, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
December 30: Second ODI, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
January 2: Third ODI, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
January 5: First T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
January 7: Second T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
January 9: Third T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
Australian squad: Darcie Brown, Lauren Cheatle (Test only), Heather Graham, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris (T20s only), Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham