Australia will be sweating on the fitness of Ashleigh Gardner ahead of this month’s T20I series against New Zealand after the star allrounder was ruled out of the opening weekend of the domestic 50-over competition with concussion.
NSW Breakers will start their Women's National Cricket League title defence without Gardner, who suffered a blow on the helmet while batting in Australia's intra-squad match last Tuesday on the Gold Coast.
The 21-year-old has a worrying history of concussion, having been struck in last year's Women's Ashes and the Rebel WBBL.
Gardner will miss NSW's matches against Queensland (Friday) and Tasmania (Sunday) on the Gold Coast as the Breakers look to secure a third WNCL title in as many seasons.
Australia are due to play a warm-up match against a CA XI in Manly next Thursday ahead of their opening T20I against the White Ferns at North Sydney Oval on September 29.
"Ashleigh has had ongoing concussion symptoms since being struck on the helmet last week," Australian Team Physiotherapist, Kate Mahony said.
"She is therefore unavailable for the WNCL fixture over the weekend. We will continue to monitor her progress as she recovers."
Breakers captain and Australia wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy said it would be a "massive blow" should Gardner be ruled out of the summer opener against the White Ferns.
"Ash is such a dynamic and exciting cricketer and a real game changer," Healy said today.
"In any side she's a part of she's a threat to the opposition. It would be a big loss for us but hopefully the Kiwis will see the full front of her later."
The Australian Women’s Cricket Team have already suffered a significant injury blow, with allrounder Jess Jonassen ruled out of the New Zealand series last week after suffering a knee injury on the Gold Coast at the team’s preseason practice camp last Monday.
Jonassen underwent minor arthroscopic surgery on Thursday and is expected to return to competition in four to six weeks – a positive sign ahead of Australia’s World T20 campaign in the Caribbean in November.
Australia will meet Pakistan in Malaysia in October in the lead-up to the ICC event, with Jonassen a chance to make her return in the second half of that tour.
Australia play three T20 internationals against New Zealand, starting at North Sydney before travelling to Brisbane and Canberra.