Litchfield’s sights on six as maiden World Cup approaches

Dynamic young Aussie enthused by the prospect of lining up in the middle order for her first ICC showpiece event

Young gun Phoebe Litchfield is relishing the freedom of being Australia's middle-order game-changer as the world champions set sail towards defending their crown at the forthcoming T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.

Having made her name as an opener in the ODI side in 2022-23, Litchfield last summer played a couple of spectacular hands from No.6 in the T20 series against West Indies, hitting an Australian record 18-ball half-century and following it up with a 17-ball 36 that propelled her side to a match-winning total.

In the tour of India that followed, she showed her versatility and composure in a crisis in the first T20I in Mumbai, making 49 from 32 after coming to the middle at 4-33, as she and Ellyse Perry staged a strong recovery.

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Litchfield's nine sixes across those three innings defied her diminutive stature but were the consequence of a deliberate pre-season focus on hitting maximums, and despite a lean run of returns against South Africa and Bangladesh since, the 21-year-old appears in the box seat – narrowly in front of Brisbane Heat star Grace Harris – to play that crucial finishing role in what would be her first World Cup, in Bangladesh in October.

"I really enjoyed the freedom I had at six," Litchfield said at Allan Border Field in Brisbane, where the Australian squad has convened ahead of a three-day camp at Moreton Island off the southeast Queensland coast from Wednesday.

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"Batting behind our top order, usually the game is set up for you. Sometimes you're in a bit of a pickle, and you've got to work your way out of it, but there were a lot of times where I came in and had complete freedom to just play the way I wanted to and score with a no-fear attitude, and I think that really helped my game.

"And I think having that experience at the top of the order in the ODIs has definitely given me the technique, and then also the game management to manage myself through that. There was a game in India, where were four for not many, and 'Pez' (Perry) and I worked through things, so having that experience will also do me good coming up."

Fresh from a rare six-week break during which she travelled through the US with family and celebrated her 21st birthday, Litchfield's next assignment will be as part of a strong Australian contingent at this year's edition of The Hundred in the UK.

In 2023 she was a standout contributor from No.3 for runners-up Northern Superchargers, crashing 279 runs at a strike-rate of 132.85 to be the top overseas run-scorer.

For a bulk of Australia's T20 World Cup squad – who will be looking to win a fourth-straight title in the format – the UK tournament will serve as an ideal winter warm-up ahead of a return home for a Queensland-based T20 series with New Zealand in the weeks before the ICC showpiece.

2024 ICC Women's T20 World Cup

Warm-up matches

September 28: v Scotland, BKSP 3 Dhaka, 2pm AEST

September 30: v England, BKSP 3 Dhaka, 2pm AEST

Australia's Group A fixtures

October 4: v Sri Lanka, Sylhet International Stadium, 7pm AEST

October 8: v Pakistan, Sylhet International Stadium, midnight October 9 AEDT

October 11: v New Zealand, Sylhet International Stadium, 8pm AEDT

October 13: v India, Sylhet International Stadium, midnight October 14 AEDT

October 17: Semi-final 1, Sylhet International Stadium, midnight October 18 AEDT

October 18: Semi-final 2, Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Dhaka, midnight October 19 AEDT

October 20: Final, Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Dhaka, midnight October 21 AEDT