South Australia’s Ashleigh Gardner and Tahlia McGrath are among three players with international experienced included in Cricket Australia’s inaugural Women’s National Performance Squad.
The NPS group features eight of the country’s most promising young players, with NSW quick Belinda Vakarewa, who made her Australian debut in the recent Women’s World Cup in England, the third player with international experience included in the squad.
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The squad will spend two weeks at Brisbane’s Bupa National Cricket Centre next month training under former Australian representative and CA high performance coach Leah Poulton.
Gardner, who announced last week she was moving from NSW to SA for the 2017-18 summer, made her Australian debut earlier this year before cementing her place in the Australian XI at the World Cup, while McGrath has one ODI under her belt.
They are joined by five players who have represented Australia A: Victoria allrounder Sophie Molineux, who earlier this year won the Betty Wilson Young Cricket of the Year award at the AB Medal evening, 16-year-old leg-spinner Rachel Trenaman, ACT fast bowler Maitlan Brown and WA pair Heather Graham and Piepa Cleary.
Not only will the squad have the chance to train at the world-class NCC facilities; the second week of their stint in Brisbane will see them training alongside the Australian contracted squad at a pre-Ashes camp.
They’ll also play a series of practice matches against the Australian team as they prepare for the upcoming Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series.
Australian-contracted players Lauren Cheatle – who is on the comeback trail after shoulder surgery - and leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington will also attend the first week of the NPS program as a lead in to the Australian camp the following week.
"It’s really exciting to be able to facilitate the women's NPS for the first time with a group of players who have been touted as future Australian players,” Poulton said.
"Whilst several players have already taken the step into international cricket, the program is an important step in the elite player pathway and will allow them to further develop themselves as athletes on and off the field at the world-class facilities of the Bupa NCC.
"This program is designed to complement the work being done with the players in their respective states and allow them to experience international playing and training environments as well as being exposed to a variety of conditions."
Women’s National Performance squad: Maitlan Brown (ACT), Piepa Cleary (WA), Ash Gardner (SA), Heather Graham (WA), Tahlia McGrath (SA), Sophie Molineux (VIC), Rachel Trenaman (NSW), Belinda Vakarewa (NSW)
First ODI Allan Border Field, October 22
Brisbane Charity Partner: Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust
Second ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 26
Third ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 29
Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12
First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17
North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation
Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19
Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21
Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT