Women's World T20 2018
Wareham living a teenage dream
Leg-spinner showed her prowess with a superb performance with the ball and in the field for Australia in the World Twenty20 final
Laura Jolly in Antigua
25 November 2018, 11:00 PM AEST
A leap of faith on an uncapped teenage leg-spinner from country Victoria has paid off handsomely for Australia's selectors, with Georgia Wareham taking a starring role in Saturday's World T20 triumph in Antigua.
The decision to pick Wareham ahead of incumbent leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington for the tournament raised eyebrows among some pundits, given the South Australian's impressive statistics in the 20-over game.
But Wareham, who made her debut against New Zealand in September, displayed exactly what the selectors had seen in her on the biggest stage at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, playing a key role in Australia's eight-wicket win over England.
Wareham's ability to bowl leg-spin with pace and her variations were the major factors behind her selection, but her athleticism in the field was another reason – and it was that skill that handed Australia a vital early wicket.
She produced a stunning direct-hit run-out in the fifth over of the match to dismiss the in-form Amy Jones for four, then picked up her first wicket when Meg Lanning's correct decision to review for lbw resulted in the dismissal of Lauren Winfield for six.
THE TROPHY IS OURS!! A magnificent display against England sees Australia win the 2018 World T20! 💛💚💛💚#WT20 #AUSvENG pic.twitter.com/zHXGmOnGNM— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@SouthernStars) November 25, 2018
The 19-year-old then bowled Sophia Dunkley with a ripping delivery the following ball and while there was no hat-trick for the teenager, she finished a superb three-over spell with 2-11.
"She's fitted into the team seamlessly," Australia captain Meg Lanning said of Wareham after her team sealed their fourth World T20 title.
"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."
Let the celebrations begin! 🎉🇦🇺#WT20 #WATCHME pic.twitter.com/Iptokp6eyD— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@SouthernStars) November 25, 2018
Wareham played all but one of Australia's matches throughout the tournament, finishing with six wickets at 10.83, and bowling with the tidy economy rate of 5.20 runs per over.
For someone who only represented Australia's Under-19s for the first time in April, it's been a stunning rise to the grandest stage.
"I look back to (earlier this year) and I was in South Africa playing under-19s and I did not think I'd be playing (for Australia) at this stage, it's surreal," Wareham said.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet, maybe it will tomorrow or the next day.
"I didn't even know I was on a hat-trick, that's how much a blur the game was for me."
Wareham is just one of a promising young crop of cricketers brought into the Australian team since their defeat in the final of the 2016 World T20, alongside Ashleigh Gardner – who was named player of the final for her unbeaten 33 and three-wicket haul – and fellow Victorians Sophie Molineux and Tayla Vlaeminck.
All played their part in Australia's successful campaign and for Lanning, those are positive signs for the future.
"We've been able to add to our squad over the last few years," Lanning said. "We've gone with youth, I guess, and some players who have performed well in WBBL.
"I think that's provided a really great platform for us to select players from and to have those young players step up in such a big final just shows how good they can be and really how calm and composed they are under pressure.
"That's what we've spoken about as a group, being calm and making sure we held our nerve longer than the other team.
"To be led by the younger players today I think is a great credit to the group and the way that we're operating at the moment."
2018 ICC Women's World T20
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
November 9: Australia beat Pakistan by 52 runs
November 11: Australia beat Ireland by nine wickets
November 13: Australia beat New Zealand by 33 runs
November 17: Australia lost to India by 48 runs
November 22: Semi-final: Australia beat West Indies by 71 runs
November 24: Final: Australia beat England by eight wickets