Gardner finds touch after 'trying to hit my way' out of slump

Batting blues behind Belinda Clark Medalist after breakthrough innings in Hobart

Gardner puts success down to consistency

Ashleigh Gardner is confident she has turned a corner with the bat, as she makes a welcome return home to North Sydney Oval for Wednesday’s second ODI against South Africa.

The newly crowed Belinda Clark Award winner took a record 58 wickets for Australia across all formats last year, continuing her evolution to become not only her team’s leading spinner, but one of the best in the world.

But the 26-year-old allrounder did not enjoy the same success with bat in hand across the voting period, where she was Australia’s seventh highest run-scorer, hitting 499 runs at 24.94 and striking at 98.62.

Last week, she helped Beth Mooney guide Australia to victory in the third T20I in Hobart, scoring 26no from 17 deliveries including consecutive boundaries in the 17th over just as the required rate was creeping above nine.

It is that performance that has Gardner confident she is back on the right track.

It snapped a run of low scores in the format for Gardner, who had hit 17 runs in her previous five T20I innings, and a WBBL|09 campaign where she passed fifty only once in 14 innings.

Australian teammates laud Gardner's game

"The way that my bowling is going at the moment, that's been the most consistent part of my game," Gardner said in Sydney on Tuesday.

"With the bat, it's being really clear with what my role is and what the scenario needs for me.

"That's probably something that I've gone away a little bit from over these last few months, I was just trying to hit my way out of a bit of a form slump.

"The way that I batted in Hobart was the blueprint for me, it's making sure that I'm taking a few balls at the start and then knowing that I can find boundaries later in my innings (and having) confidence in that as well, because that's what I've done through my whole career, being that attacking batter."

Gardner claims second Belinda Clark Award

Gardner was not required to bat in Saturday’s opening ODI at Adelaide Oval, where Australia chased with South Africa’s 105 with eight wickets in hand.

The off-spinner has evolved from a part-time bowler to Australia’s leading spinner across the last two years.

After taking on greater responsibility during the trickier phases of the game in the Weber WBBL – bowling in the power play, power surge and at the death for the Sydney Sixers – Gardner has increasingly been given the same responsibilities at international level.

Gardner launches game-changing six

"I think (I’ve improved) just skill wise and being a lot more consistent," Gardner said.

"I've built that trust within my captains to bring me on in those clutch moments, where probably before I was quite inconsistent and they didn't know what they were going to get from me.

"I felt like I've always been an okay bowler but it's something that I've really worked on.

"I've always been a batting allrounder within this side, but now Alyssa being able to throw me the ball in those clutch moments and important moments as well, bowling the last over in T20 games, I certainly never thought being an off-spinner I'd be doing that.

"I guess it just shows the hard work that I have put in and just the trust that I built within my captains to be able to be given that opportunity."

The current make-up of Australia’s white-ball teams, with Jess Jonassen not featuring in the ODI or T20I XI against India or to date against South Africa, means Gardner is the most experienced on-field member of the spin attack, having represented her country on 154 occasions, ahead of leg-spinners Georgia Wareham (88 games) and Alana King (49).

"With the make-up of our team at the moment, I have played more games than the other two spinners that are currently playing and it's being able to share those experiences, be good or bad, and just different conditions as well," she said.

"We're always having different conversations on the field about what's working and what's not."

Women's CommBank T20I Series v South Africa

First T20: Australia won by eight wickets

Second T20: South Africa won by six wickets

January 30: Australia win by five wickets

Women's CommBank ODI Series v South Africa

February 3: Australia won the first ODI by eight wickets

February 7: Second ODI, North Sydney Oval, 2.40pm

February 10: Third ODI, North Sydney Oval, 2.40pm

Australia squad: Alyssa Healy (c), Darcie Brown, Heather Graham, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris*, Jess Jonassen, Alana King**, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham *T20s only | **ODIs only

South Africa squad (T20Is & ODIs): Laura Wolvaardt (c), Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Nadine de Klerk, Mieke de Ridder (wk), Ayanda Hlubi, Sinalo Jafta (wk), Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Suné Luus, Eliz-Mari Marx, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Chloe Tryon, Delmi Tucker

Women's CommBank Test Match v South Africa

February 15-18: Only Test, WACA Ground, Perth 11.00am