Women's World T20 2018

World T20 preview: Australia

Meg Lanning's star-studded team are eyeing their fourth World T20 title after finishing runners-up in 2016

Laura Jolly

08 November 2018, 12:40 PM

Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen (subject to fitness), Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham

Fixtures: 9 November v Pakistan, 11 November v Ireland, 13 November v New Zealand, 17 November v India

Best result: Champions (2010, 2012, 2014)

ICC ranking: 1st

The talking point: In exciting news for Australian fans, left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen has returned from the knee injury that sidelined her for the series against New Zealand and Pakistan and is now ready to go for the World T20. What's even more pleasing for Meg Lanning's team is that in her absence, the young spin attack of Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham and Ashleigh Gardner stepped up with aplomb, all playing key roles in continuing what's now a nine-match winning streak for Australia.

Schutt made to wait for rare T20 hat-trick

The star: Yes, Australia skipper Meg Lanning is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars in the game, but no T20I bowler in the world has been in more devastating touch than Megan Schutt throughout the past 12 months. The Australian spearhead sits on top of the ICC's T20 bowling rankings and second in the ODI rankings, and her performances both in the power play and at the death have played a major part in her team's T20 resurgence. In the past 12 months, she's captured 24 T20I wickets at 12.08 - only India's Poonam Yadav (27) and Bangladesh's Rumana Ahmed (26) have taken more wickets across that period, and both have played six more matches than Schutt. The South Australian has also bowled with an economy rate of 5.63 – one of only two Australians, alongside Sophie Molineux, to go for fewer than six runs an over.

The one to watch: Speaking of Sophie Molineux, the left-arm spinning allrounder from Victoria has emerged as a key cog in the Australian bowling attack throughout the last five weeks. The 20-year-old, who only made her T20I debut in March, was handed greater responsibilities with the ball in the absence of the injured Jonassen against New Zealand and Pakistan and stepped up in remarkable fashion. From just nine T20Is to date, Molineux has collected 11 wickets at 14.5 – even more impressive when you take into account that it took until her fifth match to claim her maiden wicket. She's also a more than handy lower-order bat in the Australian line-up, given she opens for Victoria and the Melbourne Renegades, and her emergence as an international-level player could be just what Australia needs to win back the trophy.

Super Sophie shines in Canberra Twenty20

The verdict: Australia have pledged to play fearless, attacking cricket at this tournament, so you do not want to miss a ball of their campaign. They've stacked their top order with their biggest hitters and given them license to explode – safe in the knowledge the experienced, poised trio of Meg Lanning, Rachael Haynes and Ellyse Perry are installed in the middle order – and they boast one of the world's premier bowlers in Megan Schutt. After several disappointing years in the T20 format Australia have been resurgent this year, winning nine matches in a row, and given their No.1 ranking will rightly go in as favourites. They're also driven by the pain of their losing campaign in 2016 and last year's World Cup disappointment – but anything can happen in T20 cricket and one thing Australia can't afford to do is get ahead of themselves, with plenty of dangers lurking in the group stage before the action advances to Antigua.

ALL THE WT20 PREVIEWS

2018 ICC Women's World T20  

Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham

November 9: Australia v Pakistan, Province Stadium, Guyana

November 11: Australia v Ireland, Province Stadium

November 13: Australia v New Zealand, Province Stadium

November 17: Australia v India, Province Stadium

November 22: Semi-finals, Sir Vivian Richards Ground, Antigua

November 24: Final, Sir Vivian Richards Ground