Sutherland puts name in frame for T20 World Cup
The continued rise of 18-year-old Annabel Sutherland has the Victoria allrounder's name increasingly being talked about in terms of World Cup selection
13 January 2020, 10:43 AM AEST
Plenty of fanfare accompanied Ellyse Perry's long-awaited Victorian debut last week, but it was another pace-bowling allrounder who outshone her new superstar state teammate at Junction Oval.
Last month, Australia A coach Leah Poulton made it clear it was a matter of when, not if, Annabel Sutherland would make her debut in the green and gold – going so far as to suggest the uncapped teen's name could even be discussed by national selectors for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
For anyone who watched the Victorian in action against Western Australia last week, it was plain to see why the 18-year-old is so highly rated.
In the first of two 50-over Women's National Cricket League matches at Junction Oval, Sutherland struck a smart 37-ball 43 – only run out from the final ball of the innings – before claiming 3-21 from eight overs to help bowl the hosts to victory.
In Thursday's second game, she outshone experienced internationals Perry, Meg Lanning and Elyse Villani to top-score with a brilliant 67, backing up the 1-49 she had taken from nine overs with the ball.
So impressed was Victorian captain Lanning, she singled Sutherland out as the state's standout player across the two contests.
"I thought she bowled some good areas (and) it's been a while since I've seen her batting out in the middle but she's improved a hell of a lot the last few months, she's hitting the ball harder and she's getting stronger as well," Lanning said.
It's high praise for the teenager, who earlier this summer missed a chunk of the Rebel WBBL season – where she plays for Melbourne Stars – as she completed her Year 12 exams.
Sutherland was also one of the standouts when Australia A completed 20- and 50-over series wins against India A in Queensland last month, form that prompted 'A' coach Poulton to predict a maiden international call-up could come sooner rather than later.
"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."
Bringing an uncapped teenager into the mix for a major tournament would not be 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.
But breaking into this Australian side is no easy matter and given their form across the last 18 months – where they have lost just three matches across all formats – few surprises are expected when their squad for the upcoming World Cup on home soil is unveiled this week.
However, there is also an ODI and T20I tour of South Africa that will follow hot on the heels of the ICC tournament in mid-March, which could also present opportunities with the next 50-over World Cup just 12 months away.
"She played well through the Big Bash, she played well in the A series and again she played well (for Victoria) … when you do well, you're going to get spoken about (by selectors)," Lanning said.
"Being an allrounder, that certainly helps her as well … as a young player, it's good to see her doing well."
In the eyes of Victoria opener Villani, Sutherland receiving that phone call from the national selectors is only a matter of time.
"I think 'Belsy' is going to have a long career with Australia," Villani said last week.
"When that starts, I'm not sure, but it's inevitable I think, everyone knows that.
"When it does start, I think she'll have a really long career and I think she'll be a great allrounder for Australia for many years to come."
Sutherland, meanwhile, is merely relishing all the extra time she can now dedicate to cricket training with her high school studies now complete.
Being able to train alongside the likes of Perry and Lanning at Junction Oval is an added bonus.
"I just like to stay in the present and keep on taking my opportunities when I get them," Sutherland, the sister of Victorian and Renegades allrounder Will, and daughter of former CA chief executive James, said.
"I've got a little bit more time on my hands now, which is good. It's a good opportunity to knuckle down and keep working hard.
"Any chance I get at training is another opportunity to learn off the girls."