Left-arm quick Lauren Cheatle is setting her sights on the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes as she continues her comeback from a shoulder injury.
The 18-year-old underwent surgery on her troublesome shoulder in May, dashing her hopes of being part of Australia’s World Cup campaign in the United Kingdom.
Quick single: Australia confident of Ashes success
But after returning to bowling last week, the speedster is optimistic she’s on track to be fit and firing in time to state her case for Ashes selection.
“It’s coming along really well after three months of rehab, I’ve started bowling, batting and running again which is really exciting,” Cheatle told cricket.com.au.
“Physically I feel the strongest I ever have, so I’m really hoping that’ll transfer into my bowling.
“I’m hoping to be back for the first round of the WNCL season on October 6 and then the Ashes are pretty soon after that, so if all goes well hopefully I’ll be back in that squad and fully fit to play.”
Cheatle’s rehabilitation prevented her from picking up bat or ball for 14 weeks, but the quick has not been taking it easy through the Australian winter, working hard at preseason fitness training with her Lend Lease NSW Breakers teammates.
Having watched the World Cup from afar, the Bowral product is now champing at the bit for the opportunity to take on England, who defeated India in the tournament’s final to claim their fourth 50-over crown.
While her injury and the ODI retirement of veteran seamer Rene Farrell meant uncapped quicks Sarah Aley and Belinda Vakarewa were included in Australia’s World Cup squad, Cheatle will be a strong contender to reclaim her spot against England.
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She’ll likely have a chance to impress at a pre-Ashes training camp in Brisbane next month, while there will also be one round of Women’s National Cricket League played before the first Ashes ODI on October 22.
“It’s a very competitive side at the moment and it’ll be hard to get back into it, but I think if I just stick to my strengths and do what I do best then hopefully the selectors will see something in that and I’ll get a go,” she said.
It’s been a frustrating 12 months for Cheatle, who burst onto the international scene during the 2015-16 summer and earned a spot in Australia’s 2016 World T20 squad.
She sat out a tour of Sri Lanka last September due to Year 12 study commitments, before being struck down by illness that kept her sidelined through much of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash season.
She then suffered a shoulder injury while training for Australia’s limited-overs series against New Zealand.
Cheatle returned to make her ODI debut in Auckland and earned a place in Australia’s preliminary World Cup squad, only to be ruled out of the tournament just days after joining the squad in Brisbane when it was decided surgery was necessary.
“I’m not someone who likes to sit still, so being told I wasn’t able to do anything for three months was a bit hard, but now I feel a lot better and like I’m making a lot more progress,” she said.
“But (the surgery) was something that needed to happen, so that put my mind at ease a little.
“It’s one World Cup out of hopefully a few more, so to get my shoulder right was important.”
The multi-format Ashes, which are decided on a points system, will see Australia meet England in three ODIs, three T20Is and one Test throughout October and November.
And while Cheatle just wants to get back out on the park for her country, the teenager admits she’d be particularly elated to earn a maiden Baggy Green when the Ashes foes meet in an historic day-night Test at North Sydney Oval from November 9.
“I’d definitely be the first to put my hand up for the new ball (in the day-night Test),” she said.
“(Playing in the Ashes) is something I’ve always dreamed of doing and it’s something I want to tick off my list, so hopefully I get the chance to do that.”
With matches being played at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field, Coffs Harbour Stadium, North Sydney Oval and Canberra’s Manuka Oval, Cheatle hopes Australia’s fans to turn out in droves to cheer on their heroes.
“We’re playing at nice, smaller grounds and they have a nice feel when they’re full,” she said.
“It would be awesome to have a big crowd supporting the Aussies.”
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