Nicola Carey could be the trump card Australia needs in the ongoing Commonwealth Bank Tour of India and beyond, coach Matthew Mott believes.
Carey was handed Australia ODI cap No.137 before Monday’s opening ODI and acquitted herself well on debut despite going wicketless.
Her skiddy pace and variations proved a handful for the Indian batters: there was just one scoring shot from her first three overs, and at the end of her first five-over spell she had figures of 0-8, with two maidens.
At the end of her 10 overs, the 24-year-old had figures of 0-28.
“Nicola had a fabulous debut. It was a really gutsy call to bowl her inside the power play, we didn’t plan for that but it came off well,” Mott said ahead of Australian training on Wednesday.
“She had an amazing amount of dots and brought about plenty of pressure.
“We’ve been looking for that that style of bowler, we’ve been missing someone who can hit the pitch hard and skid along.
“She’s done some great work leading into the matches with both bowling coaches, her changes of pace are good but more importantly that hard length she hit – she’ll be real trump card for us over here, she’s not easy to hit and she’s a really good wicket-taking option.”
The NSW allrounder almost had her first international wicket in the 38th over on Monday when Meg Lanning put down a difficult opportunity at mid-off, while another chance fell just short of Ellyse Perry in the deep.
“It was amazing, it was probably one of the most unlucky debuts I’ve ever seen,” Australia wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy reflected on Tuesday.
“She could have had three-for at the end of the day and been knocking on the door for player of the match.”
Carey’s ODI debut came on her third tour with the Australian squad. On both previous occasions, she was a late call-up as injury cover for another player – first, for an unwell Sarah Coyte during the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka, and again for the WT20 in India two years ago when Grace Harris was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis.
This time, Carey was a first-choice selection in the Southern Stars squad, reward for a strong season with the ball – and several impressive lower-order cameos with the bat – during the Rebel WBBL and WNCL seasons.
“It’s great to see her finally get an opportunity,” Healy said.
“She’s been a tourist at a couple of World Cups and she’s put in a lot of hard work over the last 12 months on and off the field.
“It’s great to see her get out there and have a crack, these are the perfect conditions for her bowling style.
”Hopefully we get to see her with the bat at some stage throughout the series as well.”
Speaking to cricket.com.au soon after her arrival in India, Carey said she felt like she belonged in the Australian squad and was in a better place with both her batting and bowling compared to two years ago.
"It's a bit different to the past, a couple of times I've been on standby but to be picked initially in the squad – I was pretty excited," Carey said.
"You're almost an unlucky charm, to be standing by for someone in the team (to miss out), so it's a bit different this time.
"It's really exciting to be back with the Aussie team now, it's been a couple of years since I was last with the group."
"With my batting I've been trying to figure out my game plans a bit more and ways to get around things I've struggled with, and also working on getting more consistent with my bowling and my variations.”
Carey was part of a small group of Australian players took part in an optional training session on Tuesday, with the full squad to hit the training track again on Wednesday ahead of the second ODI.
Cricket.com.au will provide news, scores, highlights and behind-the-scenes coverage from on the ground in India, while Fox Sports will broadcast all the ODIs and the T20I tri-series that will follow live.
Commonwealth Bank Tour of India
Australia ODI squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Australia T20 squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Naomi Stalenberg, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington
India ODI squad: Mithali Raj (Captain), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey, Sukanya Parida, Pooja Vastrakar, Deepti Sharma
England T20I squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Kate Cross, Alice Davidson-Richards, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Katie George, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Anya Shrubsole, Bryony Smith, Nat Sciver, Fran Wilson, Danni Wyatt
Warm-up match Australia beat India A by 321 runs. Report
Warm-up match Australia beat India A by seven wickets. Report
First ODI Australia won by eight wickets Scorecard
Second ODI Reliance Stadium, Vadodara, March 15
Third ODI Reliance Stadium, Vadodara, March 18
First T20I Australia v India, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, March 22
Second T20I Australia v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 23
Third T20I India v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 25
Fourth T20I Australia v India, Brabourne Stadium, March 26
Fifth T20I Australia v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 28
Sixth T20I India v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 29
Final Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, March 31