If Australia’s Under 19s are looking for any added inspiration during their limited-overs tour of New Zealand, they need look no further than recent international debutantes Georgia Wareham and Tayla Vlaeminck.
The Victorian pair starred on the inaugural Australia U19s tour of South Africa last April, their performances enough to convince selectors they should be rewarded with maiden appearances in the green and gold this summer.
The current crop of Australia Under 19s are currently in New Zealand for three 50-over matches and a single T20.
And while the tour didn’t get off to the start they may have liked against a strong local team featuring players with senior international experience on Tuesday, falling to a five-wicket defeat, coach Shelley Nitschke says the opportunity to tour overseas against strong opposition will be invaluable.
“I think it’s a massive step for us and it just gives the next group of players an opportunity to show what they’ve got,” Nitschke told cricket.com.au.
“It gives them that exposure to other conditions, gives them more games of cricket at a pretty good standard and we’ll see some different players in different environments.”
“(The experience) is huge. If you talk to Tayla and Georgia, they’ll attest to the fact that it’s not just the cricket, but the high-performance environment and the time away from home, being on the road and learning about what’s required with training, that all helps the transition from the Under 19s through to the senior team.”
The Under 19s squad features a host of players with Rebel WBBL experience alongside promising up-and-comers.
A total of 10 players who hold Big Bash contracts are part of the 14-player squad, including Brisbane Heat batter Josie Dooley, who played a key role in helping her club claim their maiden WBBL title after making her Big Bash debut this summer.
She’s joined by allrounder Hayley Silver-Holmes, who was part of the Sydney Sixers XI in Saturday’s final, and Sixers teammate Tahlia Wilson who played five matches this summer.
Melbourne Stars regulars Annabel Sutherland and Nicole Fultum also feature in the squad, as does Thunder allrounder Rachel Trenaman.
Outside of those already holding WBBL contracts, Nitschke has been impressed by South Australia’s Darcie Brown – who she describes as a “tearaway quick” – and one of the youngest squad members in Phoebe Litchfield.
Asked who may be the next Wareham or Vlaeminck to emerge from the under-age team to the Australian ranks, Nitschke believes Sutherland and Trenaman – who are already part of the National Performance Squad, despite still being in high school – are among those leading the pack.
Australia Under-19 squad
Isabelle Afaras (NSW Metro), Darcie Brown (South Australia), Stella Campbell (NSW Metro/Sydney Sixers), Maddy Darke (NSW Metro), Hannah Darlington (NSW Metro/Sydney Thunder), Josephine Dooley (Queensland/Brisbane Heat), Nicole Faltum (VIC Metro/Melbourne Stars), Charli Knott (Queensland/Brisbane Heat), Phoebe Litchfield (Cricket Australia XI), Hayley Silver-Holmes (NSW Metro/Sydney Sixers), Courtney Sippel (Queensland/Brisbane Heat), Annabel Sutherland (VIC Metro/Melbourne Stars), Rachel Trenaman (ACT/NSW Country/Sydney Thunder), Tahlia Wilson (NSW Metro/Sydney Sixers)
Australia Under 19 Tour of New Zealand
50-over matches: March 12, 14 and 15 at Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln
20-over match: March 17 at Bert Sutcliffe Oval