Versatile Villani swaps bat for ball

Opening batter entrusted to bowl final over in maiden ODI spell during thrilling tie in Coffs Harbour

Elyse Villani didn't even expect to be playing for Australia in Sunday's tied one-day international at Coffs Harbour.

After a disappointing run with the bat at the top of the order which produced 16 runs across the first three matches of the ODI series against South Africa, the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars batter had an inkling she might get dropped for the fourth ODI.

As it transpired, Villani did play and – with Australia fielding an XI with less bowling depth than usual following injuries to Grace Harris and Megan Schutt – had the chance to tick off a long sought-after goal, handed the ball for the first time at international level.

Not only that, but she walked away with eight overs and one wicket to her name and was trusted by skipper Meg Lanning to deliver the 50th over of the match with South Africa needing eight runs for victory.

She couldn’t quite pull of the heroics she’d hoped for – the match ending all square at 242 apiece – leaving the WA batter with mixed emotions following Sunday’s match.

Quick Single: Stars hang on for thrilling tie in Coffs

"I knew I was an option, but I didn't think I'd bowl as many overs as I did," Villani said.

"I'm happy to play any role for the team and I haven't been able to contribute throughout this series so far, which has been very disappointing on an individual level, so it's nice to be thrown an opportunity today."

South Africa needed eight runs off the final over. After a dot ball, Proteas tailenders Moseline Daniels and Masabata Klaas dashed through for three singles before finding the boundary to level scores. A run-out from the final ball ensured a tied result.

Re-live thrilling final over of Southern Stars tie

"To be honest, I wasn’t that nervous (about bowling the final over) because I cop a lot of flack in the nets anyway when I bowl against the girls," Villani joked.

"I was pretty warm by that stage, I just really wanted to win. I'm disappointed we didn't quite win.

"I think I executed my plans OK, but again there were some balls where I gave them too much width, which was the storyline of our attack in general."

The right-arm medium pacer has long been vocal about her belief she could be called upon by skipper Meg Lanning if required and is one of the most enthusiastic bowlers in the nets when given the chance.

March 2016: Bench Banter - Villani's FBC application

However, she admitted she never quite thought the opportunity would come along, let alone result in a wicket.

Villani's swift run-out removes Kapp

Villani also executed a run out, breaking the 144-run stand between Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp when she ran out the latter at the non-strikers' end.

Villani claims first international wicket

"I was pumped, I reckon the footage shows that.

"To be honest, I didn't know if I'd ever get a bowl at international level, so to get a bowl was a dream come true and to get a wicket, I couldn’t quite contain myself.

“(The run out) felt like a wicket in itself.

“It was really nice to break that partnership. I just like getting involved, it’s nice to be involved.”  

Forays into bowling aside, Villani’s attention is firmly focused on returning to her best in her usual discipline, after being dropped down the order to No.7 for Sunday’s ODI as Beth Mooney stepped up to open alongside Nicole Bolton.

Quick Single: 'Like kissing your brother, I guess'

When Villani's opportunity came late in the innings, she added a quickfire 24 off 20 balls, but the 26-year-old says she will fight to regain her place at the top of the order.

"Obviously I would love to be opening the batting.

"I haven’t come off so far this series in that role. In my last two innings, I think got pretty good balls which is sometimes just the way it is.

"You need a bit of luck sometimes. I feel like I was batting well, but if you are opening the batting and you're not making runs, you're in a pretty vulnerable position.

"I wasn't surprised I was dropped down the order. I was probably expecting not to play at all, so it was nice to be thrown a bit of a lifeline."

Australia will play South Africa in the fifth and final ODI in Coffs Harbour on Tuesday at 2.20pm AEDT.

Following that match, the Southern Stars will switch their attention to the 20-over game, as they meet up with their Rebel Women's Big Bash League clubs to prepare for the season start on December 10.

Entry to the final ODI at Coffs International Stadium is FREE and the match can be streamed live and free on