Georgia Wareham couldn’t have scripted a more perfect start to her international career, helping Australia win a T20 World Cup title in just her 14th appearance in the green and gold.
Now, the 19-year-old leg-spinner from country Victoria has capped off a memorable summer in style, taking out the Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year Award at Monday’s Australian Cricket Awards.
Presented to Australia’s most promising rising player and voted for by her peers, Wareham was acknowledged for her performances across a period that saw her impress in Rebel WBBL|03 before making her international T20I debut against New Zealand in late September.
Wareham picked up 10 wickets at 14.60 for the Melbourne Renegades during the 2017-18 Big Bash season, with Australian selectors impressed by her ability to bowl leg-spin with pace, her variations and her athleticism in the field.
A call-up to the National Performance Squad followed, with Wareham making the most of her stint at the Bupa National Cricket Centre through the winter, carefully honing her skills under the watchful eye of high performance coach Leah Poulton.
The Australian selectors clearly liked what they saw: with a T20 World Cup on the horizon, they made the decision to pick Wareham ahead of incumbent leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington for September’s three-game T20I series against New Zealand.
She debuted at North Sydney Oval in the first T20I and ended the series with two wickets to her name, doing enough to secure her place in Australia’s ODI squad for October’s tour of Malaysia – where she made her ODI debut against Pakistan – and for the ICC tournament in the Caribbean followed.
And it was in the final of the T20 World Cup against England at Antigua’s Sir Vivian Richards Stadium that Wareham more than paid off the show of faith shown by the national selectors.
The teenager produced a stunning direct-hit run-out in the fifth over of the match to dismiss the in-form Amy Jones for four, before collecting two wickets in as many balls, finishing a superb three-over spell with 2-11.
With her 20th birthday still four months away, Wareham has already taken 14 international wickets and has cemented herself firmly in Australia’s plans for a busy year that includes an away Ashes series and a T20 World Cup on home soil next February.
For someone who only represented Australia's Under-19s for the first time in April last year, it's been a stunning rise to the grandest stage.
"She's fitted into the team seamlessly," Australia captain Meg Lanning said of Wareham after her team sealed their fourth World T20 title last November.
"The stage of international cricket hasn't daunted her at all.
"I guess we took a little bit of risk selecting her, obviously she hasn't played domestic cricket for that long, but we saw some real potential in her and the way she's carried herself throughout the tournament has been amazing.
"To stand up on such a big stage today just showed what a great player and person she is."
To be eligible for this year’s Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year Award, players must be aged under 24 and have played 25 or fewer WNCL, WBBL or international matches at the start of the voting period, which ran between December 9, 2017 and November 12, 2018.
Wareham collected a whopping 74 per cent of the vote, to finish ahead of young Victorian and Stars quick Annabel Sutherland and NSW/Thunder spinner Maisy Gibson, who both polled 6 per cent.
CommBank ODIs v NZ
February 22: First ODI, WACA Ground, Perth
February 24: Second ODI, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
March 3: Third ODI, Junction Oval, Melbourne