Australia spearhead Megan Schutt is “the benchmark” for Twenty20 bowlers around the world, head coach Matthew Mott believes.
In a year that’s seen five of the top six highest team totals ever in women’s T20Is amassed by the likes of England, Australia, New Zealand and India, the pressure on bowlers to find ways to stem the flow of runs has never been higher.
Schutt, the current No.1 ranked T20I bowler, produced a player-of-the-series performance in the tri-series against India and England in March, capturing nine wickets in five matches at 12.33 and bowling at an economy rate of 6.28 – well below the series average of 8.19.
Her adaptability and willingness to take risks to unsettle opposition batters is the perfect example for others to follow, Mott says.
“I think she’s the almost the benchmark for bowlers around the world and that shows in the world rankings,” Mott told cricket.com.au.
“She was challenged a lot by the way the batters have came at her over the last year or so and she’s been prepared to take a step back, analyse the game and work out some options.
“(That includes) taking the pace off the ball earlier, being more bold and aggressive with those changes of pace, and you can see the dividends paid off in India.
“Teams are aware of her and it will be interesting to see if they come harder at her now, or look to see her off.”
Australia will play New Zealand in three T20Is from late September ahead of their World T20 campaign in the Caribbean in November.
The 20-over game has been the firm focus of a bowling camp at Brisbane’s Bupa National Cricket Centre this week and while Mott isn’t going to give away any secrets, he offered some insight into how his bowling attack will tackle a game that – with only four fielders out of the circle and short boundaries – more often than not gives a distinct advantage to those wielding the willow.
“We improved last series in terms of when teams were coming hard at us, that we were able to just absorb that pressure a bit,” Mott said.
“One thing you can’t have is to just let it all go. We know batters are going hit boundaries and they’ve got power and there’s only four fielders out, so it’s difficult.
“You can’t hedge your bets as a bowling group, but there are certainly ways you can try and get ahead of the batter and get them guessing a bit more.
“I don’t want to give too many secrets away but that’s certainly something our bowling group has researched quite diligently and we’re looking forward to practicing here before taking it overseas.”
Australia’s first T20I against New Zealand will be played at North Sydney Oval on September 29, and Mott says his team couldn’t ask for a better way to check their progress before the World T20.
“It’s a big opportunity against very, very strong opposition to see if our plans are going to work.
“It’s going to be really important that we get that right against New Zealand.”
Commonwealth Bank T20I series v NZ
September 29: First T20I, North Sydney Oval, Sydney
October 1: Second T20I, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
October 5: Third T20I, Manuka Oval, Canberra
Commonwealth Bank ODI series v NZ
February 22: First ODI, WACA Ground, Perth
February 24: Second ODI, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
March 3: Third ODI, Junction Oval, Melbourne