ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
Sutherland bolts into Aussie World Cup squad
Rising star earns a shock call-up to the national squad for T20 title defence
15 January 2020, 05:11 PM AEST
Australia will name a bolter in their squad for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, with uncapped Victorian allrounder Annabel Sutherland handed a maiden international call-up ahead of the showpiece event.
Exciting young pace-bowling allrounder Sutherland, 18, only completed her Year 12 studies late last year, but next month she’ll be lining up alongside the likes of Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry in Australia’s 15-player World Cup squad.
Australia will officially unveil their group for their World Cup defence - and next month's CommBank T20 tri-series - in Melbourne on Thursday morning, with Sutherland’s inclusion expected to be the only major surprise, given the strong form of Lanning’s team across the past two years.
Fellow Victorian allrounder Sophie Molineux is also expected to make her return to the national team, after taking time away from the game in November to focus on her mental health.
Molineux, who made her cricket comeback for Victoria last week, had missed Australia’s past two series against West Indies and Sri Lanka in September and October last year as she recovered from major shoulder surgery.
Bringing an uncapped teenager into the mix for a major event is not unheard of for Australia – they handed debuts to Georgia Wareham and Tayla Vlaeminck in the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup in the Caribbean, a tournament they went on to win.
Sutherland, the daughter of former Cricket Australia CEO James and brother of Victorian and Renegades allrounder Will, has long been touted for higher honours.
Just last month, Australia A coach Leah Poulton made it clear it was a matter of when, not if, Sutherland would make her debut in the green and gold.
The Victorian missed a chunk of the Rebel WBBL season – where she plays for Melbourne Stars – earlier this summer as she completed her Year 12 exams.
But she found her groove during the Australia A limited-overs matches against India A in December, to be one of the hosts’ best across all six matches.
"Based on how she performed in this series and in the WBBL, I don't think she's far off," Poulton told cricket.com.au at the end of that 'A' series last month.
"It's always tempting to have someone new in a World Cup because the opposition won't know much about them, and we always try and say it doesn't matter how old you are, if you're good enough you should be playing.
"So whether or not she gets selected, I don't know, but I think her name would be spoken about at that selection meeting."
While Australia’s playing group has remained relatively steady given their on-field success, the larger-than-usual squad of 15 has created opportunities for several players to join the World Cup group.
Among those also pushing for a berth is experienced batter Elyse Villani, who was axed from the national side in September but has displayed strong form of late for both Australia A and Victoria.
Another contender is off-spinner Molly Strano, who played the last of her five T20Is for Australia in November 2017, but recently finished as the leading wicket-taker in Rebel WBBL|05 before collecting 12 wickets in six matches for Australia A in their recently completed limited-overs series against India A.
One player who had been mooted for World Cup selection after a stunning Rebel WBBL campaign, former Australia batter Jess Duffin, is unavailable after announcing late last year that she is expecting her first child with husband Chris.
2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup
February 15: Australia v West Indies, Allan Border Field
February 18: Australia v South Africa, Karen Rolton Oval
February 21: Australia v India, Sydney Showgrounds
February 24: Australia v Sri Lanka, WACA Ground
February 27: Australia v Bangladesh, Manuka Oval
March 8: Final, MCG
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE
* All matches will be broadcast on Fox Cricket and Kayo, while Australia’s matches will also be broadcast on the Nine Network