ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
Aussies reveal squad for home World Cup campaign
Young gun Sutherland the bolter, Molineux returns as world champs steel themselves for title defence on home soil
16 January 2020, 09:00 AM AEST
Uncapped teenager Annabel Sutherland is in line for a T20 World Cup debut after being included in Australia's squad for their upcoming title defence on home soil.
Australia's 15-player group for their title defence, and for the T20I tri-series against India and England that will precede it, was revealed this morning, with 18-year-old Victoria allrounder Sutherland the surprise inclusion.
Australia's T20 World Cup 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
Sutherland is one of two additions to the T20 group that whitewashed Sri Lanka last October, while fellow Victorian Sophie Molineux is set to make her return to the green and gold after being recalled.
Molineux walked away from cricket in November to focus on her mental health, returning to state cricket last week.
The spin-bowling allrounder missed Australia's last two limited-overs series in September and October as she continued her rehabilitation from major shoulder surgery.
The Australian squad features 13 players who were part of their successful World Cup campaign in the Caribbean in November 2018, with veteran allrounder Erin Burns and Sutherland the only additions to that group.
Dropping out of the group that met Sri Lanka in October is Western Australia allrounder Heather Graham.
Introducing fresh faces for a World Cup campaign is not unprecedented for Australia, who handed debuts to Georgia Wareham and Tayla Vlaeminck in the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup.
National selector Shawn Flegler said Sutherland had "progressed significantly over the past few months".
"Anyone who has seen her play will know how special a talent she is, and we know that if called upon she'll be able to play a variety of roles in the side," Flegler added. "This will be another terrific experience for someone who we see as the future of Australian Cricket."
Sutherland, the daughter of former Cricket Australia chief executive James and brother of Victorian and Renegades allrounder Will, has long been touted for higher honours.
A pace bowler who is more than handy with the bat, the 18-year-old only graduated from high school late last year but has been part of the National Performance Squad for the last two years.
She missed a chunk of the recent Rebel WBBL season with Melbourne Stars due to her exams, but returned to finish the season strongly before starring for Australia A against India A in December.
Across six matches she took nine wickets at 12.4 and struck a fine half-century with the bat.
It was enough to prompt Australia A coach Leah Poulton to state it was a matter of when, not if, Sutherland would make her debut in the green and gold.
"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."
Among those unlucky to miss out on selection is experienced batter Elyse Villani, who was axed from the national side in September but has displayed strong form of late for both Australia A and Victoria, while leading WBBL wicket-taker Molly Strano was also overlooked despite an outstanding campaign for the Renegades and against India A.
Flegler also made specific mention of WBBL|04 leading fast bowler Belinda Vakarewa and Strikers allrounder Tahlia McGrath as unlucky omissions from what remains a very stable Australian squad.
One player who had been mooted for World Cup selection after a stunning Rebel WBBL campaign, former Australia batter Jess Duffin, was unavailable after announcing late last year that she is expecting her first child with husband Chris.
"This was an incredibly difficult side to pick with selectors looking at the overall mix of the squad and the roles required, and we feel we've got great cover for all teams and scenarios," Flegler said.
"The tri-series will be the perfect warm-up against two of the best sides in the world and will give the team the chance to finalise its preparations ahead of the World Cup.
"For most players this was one of the biggest selections of their career with not many people getting to play in a World Cup in front of a home crowd, but we're really confident this squad can go out and defend its title and do Australia proud."
A Cricket Australia XI featuring some of the country’s best young talent has also been named to play Australia in a T20 warm-up match at Sydney Showgrounds on January 27.
Cricket Australia XI: Stella Campbell, Hannah Darlington, Josie Dooley, Heather Graham, Charli Knott, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath (c), Bridget Patterson, Taneale Peschel, Molly Strano, Belinda Vakarewa
It includes WBBL|05 Young Gun Hannah Darlington, and 16-year-old Phoebe Litchfield, who struck an impressive half-century in the WNCL earlier this week.
"This is one of the strongest CA XI squads we’ve had with so many players dominating domestic cricket and putting their hands up for selection, including some who were unlucky to miss out on senior selection," Flegler said.
"The side has a mix of players who will provide cover to the senior squad, as well as others like Phoebe Litchfield who have shown great promise and we will no doubt see in Australian colours in the years ahead.
"Hannah Darlington and Stella Campbell have also been terrific this season, so this is another great opportunity for them to play with and against highly skilled players."
2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup
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