ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
World Cup spots up for grabs in Australia A series
Australia's fringe players can force their way into a World Cup squad with strong performances against India A in the next two weeks
Laura Jolly in Brisbane
9 December 2019, 08:32 AM AEST
Coach Matthew Mott says as many as three spots are up for grabs in Australia’s squad for next year’s T20 World Cup, with the upcoming Australia A series to be a pivotal selection trial.
Given Meg Lanning’s team is ranked No.1 in the world and has dropped just three T20 matches in the past two years – a period of success that included the 2018 World Cup title in the Caribbean – there won’t be a mass turnover of personnel for their title defence in February and March.
And Mott has indicated the selection panel will back in the group that has been pivotal to that recent success, despite several of his key stars producing below-par WBBL campaigns.
But with an extended group of 15 players to be picked for the showpiece event, the A players that will face India A over the next fortnight have a golden opportunity to force their way into the World Cup squad.
"We’ve said from day one, the WBBL is very important for T20 selection and pretty much all of those players have performed at some point through this tournament," Mott told cricket.com.au of the Australia A squad.
"There’s usually around three spots (available).
"Our top 12 will probably pick themselves and (after that) you look at who are potentially good impact players off the bench who can fill a couple of roles.
"Generally in a T20 World Cup, if you find the right formula in the first couple of games – even though we’re playing on some different wickets and different opponents – you’re not going to change your team outside of that top 12 or 13 a whole lot.
"So it’s most important we get that 12 right, that we get our structure right, and the other three (players) can potentially come in if something goes wrong."
Australia A will play India A in three one-day games at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field, starting this Thursday, before three T20 matches on the Gold Coast from December 19-23.
The 20-over matches will be particularly crucial in World Cup calculations, with the Australian brains trust to be looking closely at quicks Belinda Vakarewa, Sammy-Jo Johnson and Maitlan Brown as they weigh up their pace-bowling options for the tournament.
Also in the spotlight will be allrounders Erin Burns and Heather Graham, who were part of recent series wins against West Indies and Sri Lanka, alongside another all-round talent in Tahlia McGrath, who impressed for the Strikers in the WBBL.
It’s likely the selectors will look to include an extra specialist batter in the World Cup group as well, with Elyse Villani and Bridget Patterson the two leading options in the A group.
Another batter who had an outstanding WBBL campaign, Renegades captain Jess Duffin, turned down a chance to play in the A team in favour of AFLW pre-season training.
Meanwhile, WBBL spin stars Molly Strano and Amanda-Jade Wellington will also be out to make an irresistible case should an extra tweaker be required.
Asked which players had impressed him most during the WBBL, Mott highlighted quick bowler Vakarewa following her successful move south from the Sydney Thunder.
"She went down to the Hurricanes to get more opportunity and she just keeps getting better and better with more opportunity,” Mott said.
"Heather Graham was Domestic Player of the Year last year (so) she’ll be around the mix for that squad. Tahlia McGrath has played some handy innings and gives you that extra bowling option as well.
"Villani is obviously a player of huge interest who has done a role in the past. She’s got an opportunity to go out and take the game on and show us what she can do.
"All those players (in the A squad) have done well and are in the frame for selection for the World Cup."
The A squad also includes several future prospects, including wicketkeeper Josie Dooley, allrounder Annabel Sutherland and 16-year-old batter Phoebe Litchfield.
Allrounder Burns, who was initially only in the T20 squad, has been called into the one-day side in place of Rachel Trenaman, who decided last week to step down from the series to focus on her mental health.
The senior Aussie women's side will next be in action for a T20 tri-series against India and England in early February, their final tune up before their World Cup opener on February 21.
Australia A One-Day squad: Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Heather Graham, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Bridget Patterson, Georgia Redmayne, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Belinda Vakarewa, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tahlia Wilson
Australia A T20 Squad: Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Josie Dooley, Heather Graham, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Bridget Patterson, Sammy Jo Johnson, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington
India A squad: Veda Krishnamurthy (c), Anuja Patil (vc), Priya Punia, Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol, Devika Vaidya, D Hemalatha, Tanusree Sarkar, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper), Nuzhat Parween, Mansi Joshi, Arundhati Reddy, Renuka Singh, Manali Dakshini, T P Kanwar
Australia A v India A