ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
'It's the sort of bold selection we're looking to make'
Teenage allrounder Annabel Sutherland touted as a potential 10-year player for Australia after her surprise World Cup call-up
16 January 2020, 05:52 PM AEST
Annabel Sutherland could have been forgiven for thinking she was still dreaming when she received the call from national selector Shawn Flegler, telling her she had been selected in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad.
The 18-year-old Victorian allrounder had only just woken up last Friday morning when her phone rang, delivering the news she had hoped would one day arrive – but certainly had not expected to come so soon.
"I'd literally just woken up and saw Flegs' name on my phone... it was a bit of a shock, it's still sinking in at the moment," Sutherland, the daughter of former Cricket Australia chief executive James and the younger sibling of Renegades and Victoria allrounder Will, said on Thursday.
The uncapped allrounder was the only shock inclusion in Australia’s 15-player group for their World Cup defence on home soil – as well as for the T20I tri-series that will precede it – with national selectors opting to give valuable experience to a teenager they see as a 10-year prospect at international level.
"As soon as I got off (the phone) I was just pumped," Sutherland said.
"Mum and Dad and my little brother Tom were just playing golf at the time. Will was the only one home.
"I went and knocked on his door and he was asleep. So I woke him up and told him.... He didn’t give me much.
"When I saw Mum, she said it was the first time she’d seen Dad cry in 54 years.
"He’s just really excited and I guess we are all really supportive of each other and want everyone to do well."
For Sutherland, who only completed her year 12 exams in November, the call-up has thrown an unexpected spanner in the works.
She has been accepted into a science degree at Melbourne University, where her first semester is due to start in February – the same time as Australia will kick off their the T20 World Cup campaign.
"I'm hoping to go part-time studying at Melbourne Uni, so hopefully I can get a couple of subjects done this semester.
"We have rest days, so there's time to do it... I feel for my own personal development it's good to have something going alongside my cricket."
Australia have asked their players to be bold and embrace a fearless brand of cricket, an edict that has led their own-field success across the past two years – a period in which Australia have lost just three matches.
Australia coach Matthew Mott said it was an approach the selectors were also embracing when it came to the tough calls.
"We’ve got to reflect that in our selections," he said. "The Annabel Sutherland selection - we’ve seen a little bit, the stats don’t necessarily say she’s blown the competition away, but we see her being a part of this team for a very long time it’s a great opportunity to get her in and get her amongst this group.
"She’s every chance of playing, but that’s the sort of bold selection we’re looking to make and I think we’ve been very open about the type of team we’re trying to set up, with the allrounders and three-dimensional players.
"That’s the beauty of a squad of 15. There’s every likelihood we won’t make a lot of changes if we start well in the tournament but there’s some different venues where we might look to change it up a little bit.
"When you’ve got the luxury of having 15 players, there’s an opportunity to take a bit more of a risk and give players who might play for the next 10 years an opportunity ahead of when they might have (otherwise)."
Sutherland got the nod over experienced campaigners including batter Elyse Villani, off-spinner Molly Strano, quick Belinda Vakarewa and fellow allrounders Tahlia McGrath and Heather Graham.
Mott explained it was a decision made in part due to her versatility, and with an eye to the future.
"She’s a class player who has been in our program for a long time," Mott said. "We’ve seen a noticeable lift in her game, particularly in T20 this year.
"I think she’s always been a very strong technical batter, but we’ve just seen her go up another gear with the bat.
"She got good reports in the WBBL and also in the A series from the coaches about her ability to hit a hard length and ask a question.
"She hurried up a lot of the India A players … Ben Sawyer our bowling coach is very keen to get working with her.
"She seems to have a really level head on her shoulders, she knows the areas she’s trying to hit and she executes extremely well."
It remains to be seen whether Sutherland will make a debut during the upcoming T20 tri-series against England and India, or during the World Cup, with Mott adamant Australia will go into the series – which essentially acts as a warm-up for all three teams – fielding their strongest side.
But with the need for game time across the entire squad also paramount, a Sutherland debut is far from off the cards.
"At the start of the tri-series we’ll pick our best team, we can’t waste those games because we haven’t played together as a team for a long time," Mott said.
"But we’ll also have a long-term view to make sure players are getting enough opportunity, so if they’re called upon at late notice they’re ready to go."
The Australian squad will come together in Sydney later this month for a warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI at Sydney Showgrounds on January 27, ahead of their first CommBank T20I tri-series game on February 1.
2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
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