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Aussie star Gardner back in NSW blue

Australia allrounder returns to the NSW Breakers for the 2018-19 WNCL season

Australia allrounder Ashleigh Gardner will return home to New South Wales for the upcoming Women’s National Cricket League season, with the Breakers unveiling their 2018-19 squad on Thursday.

Gardner returns to the Lendlease Breakers for the domestic 50-over competition after one season with South Australia and joins a star-studded line-up that also includes international teammates Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Rachael Haynes and Nicola Carey.

The NSW native, whose Cricket Australia contract was renewed last month following another successful 12 months in the green and gold, rejoins the Breakers for their bid at a remarkable 20th title from 21 WNCL seasons.

“We are really excited to have Ashleigh back in the squad after the strong season she had for Australia, the Sixers and the Scorpions,” Lendlease Breakers coach Jo Broadbent said.

“Ashleigh came through our NSW pathway and has been a key part of the Breakers squad for a number of years. It's great to welcome her back in the Breakers’ blue.”

The 19-strong NSW squad also includes four members of the National Performance Squad – Lauren Cheatle, Belinda Vakarewa, Rachel Trenaman and Saskia Horley.

Former internationals Sarah Aley and Rene Farrell add experience, while Naomi Stalenberg was part of Australia’s squad for the recent Commonwealth Bank Tour of India.

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A further three players were part of Australia’s successful U19s tour of South Africa in April: Trenaman, Horley and batter Tahlia Wilson.

The Breakers have yet to confirm who will take over as captain this summer, following the retirement of Australia great Alex Blackwell.

Broadbent said she was looking to continue to build and grow young talent as the team prepares for a blockbuster summer that will feature the WNCL, Rebel WBBL|04 and for the international players, a home series against New Zealand, a tour against Pakistan and the ICC Women’s World T20 2018 in November.

“Our sport is continuing to grow in popularity and our seasons are getting busier and longer as a result, meaning that we potentially have one of our biggest seasons ahead of us.”

South Australia have also confirmed their squad for the 2018-19 WNCL season, with two new faces added to their ranks in leg-spinning allrounder Kelly Armstrong and off-spinner Shae Daly.

Armstrong, 19, has spent the last 12 months training with the senior squad, while 18-year-old Daly has come through the underage ranks.

“Kel’s wrong’un is very good – she’s an accurate and consistent bowler and has good variations,” Scorpions assistant coach Shelley Nitschke said.

“She has really shown her commitment to the squad already and has trained very well with the group.

“Shae has been involved in Cricket Australia talent camps in the past, as well as the state underage championships.

“She gets good revs and good drop when she bowls.”

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The Scorpions have two Australian contracted players within their ranks in Megan Schutt and Amanda-Jade Wellington, while there are three changes from their 2017-18 side with Brittany Perry omitted and New Zealand international Sophie Devine opting not to return this season, in addition to the departure of Gardner.

NSW Breakers squad: Sarah Aley, Nicola Carey (CA), Lauren Cheatle, Rene Farrell, Ashleigh Gardner (CA), Maisy Gibson, Lisa Griffith, Rachael Haynes (CA), Alyssa Healy (CA), Mikayla Hinkley, Saskia Horley, Carly Leeson, Ellyse Perry (CA), Lauren Smith, Naomi Stalenberg, Rachel Treneman, Hannah Trethewy, Belinda Vakarewa, Tahlia Wilson

SA Scorpions squad: Kelly Armstrong, Samantha Betts, Shae Daly, Eliza Doddridge, Ellie Falconer, Brooke Harris, Sarah Lowe, Tahlia McGrath, Tegan McPharlin, Annie O’Neil, Bridget Patterson, Katelyn Pope, Alex Price, Tabatha Saville, Megan Schutt (CA), Amanda-Jade Wellington (CA)