Australia A Tour of England - Women's
Molineux practices patience as Ashes hopes linger
Sophie Molineux is growing in fitness and form as she returns to full strength as a member of Australia A's tour of the UK
Laura Jolly In Leicester
4 July 2019, 03:50 PM AEST
Sophie Molineux is refusing to be distracted by the potential of an Ashes call-up as she continues her return from shoulder surgery.
The Victorian allrounder, currently on tour with Australia A in the United Kingdom, is set to feature in a 50-over match against the England Academy on Friday – her first full game since going under the knife in early March.
It’s a milestone moment for Molineux, who was on restricted duties in Australia A’s first two engagements of the tour, allowed to bowl in one match, and bat in the other.
In a warm-up against the senior England team last Saturday, the Victorian took the new ball and sent down five overs to one of the best batting line-ups in the world, before their first one-dayer against the England Academy on Wednesday, where she batted at No.3, scoring a 34-ball 33.
"I’m really looking forward to it, I feel like you don’t realise how much you love it and how much you love being around the group and the team environment until it’s not there," Molineux told cricket.com.au.
"It made me appreciate the little moments I’m getting training with the girls, I’m really keen just to get out there.
"I get really excited when I know it’s skills day. I don’t ever recall a time (being so excited). Maybe back when I was in cricket playing for Bairnsdale... so really cool to get that back again.
"I’m really keen to be able to get out there and play."
It must be hard for Molineux to ignore the carrot of a potential mid-series call-up.
Australia coach Matthew Mott made the possibility clear when the Australia and Australia A squads were announced last month and he doubled down on the comments after the squads arrived in the UK, confirming Molineux was in the running to be called into the senior group ahead of the one-off Test.
"We’ll have a look at the wicket in Taunton, our mail is it could take some spin so there’s always the opportunity to play an extra spinner as well," Mott told cricket.com.au in Loughborough last week.
"Probably the most important thing is what that Test wicket is going to look like, we don’t have to add someone to the squad, but if there’s flexibility around it and there’s something we need we’ll certainly take that option.
"Sophie Molineux was incredibly unlucky not to get past her fitness benchmarks, so she’s obviously a key contender.
"Definitely Sophie over the last 12 months has been a really good acquisition for our team and if she gets fit she’ll put a pretty good case together."
Molineux admits earning a Baggy Green – or appearing in any one match of the seven-game, multi-format series – would be a dream come true.
But for now, she’s adamant she can’t let herself be distracted from the task at hand.
"I don’t want to get too far ahead. I’ve got goals just to be able to get out on the field in the next little bit," she said.
"It’s such a great opportunity here playing under Leah (Poulton) and with the group of girls in the Aussie A.
"It’s a great environment to be in, I’m lucky to be here and be part of it.
"If it happens it’ll be really cool and it’s obviously the goal and the dream to be able to play in an Ashes game, but there’s so many positives coming out of this trip to England either way."
It’s been a tough road back for Molineux, who enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks of underage cricket into the Rebel WBBL and then onto the international stage, all before her 21st birthday.
Dealing with a major injury is a first for the proud country girl – who has the coordinates for her hometown Bairnsdale tattooed on her wrist – but she can see the silver lining in honing a new skill: patience.
"Every day I learn more in terms of patience and at times I do need to reign it in a little bit, in terms of the expectations I put on myself to be able to almost speed up the (rehabilitation) process, which you can’t do," she said.
"I’ve learnt you have to respect your shoulder and your body. Thank God for Kate our physio, she’s been able to pull my head in a few times."
Molineux’s also been closely observing her new state teammate (and recent roommate), Australian teammate Ellyse Perry.
Not only has Molineux had a close-up look at how one of the world’s most dominant players goes about her business at Junction Oval, she also moved into the superstar allrounder’s spare room while she was going through her shoulder rehabilitation.
"Pez has come in and it’s like she’s always been there in the Victorian set-up. It’s just been awesome to see her and how she goes about her things," Molineux said.
"I’ve certainly learnt a lot off her in the last little bit, and she’s been great.
"She’s got the balance right and one day hopefully I can say I’ve got that too."
CommBank Australia A Tour of England
Australia A squad: Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Maddy Darke, Josie Dooley, Heather Graham, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Rachel Trenaman, Belinda Vakarewa, Amanda-Jade Wellington
June 29: England defeat Australia A by 81 runs, Loughborough
July 3: Australia A defeat England Women’s Academy by five wickets, Loughborough
July 5: England Women’s Academy v Australia, Loughborough
July 8: England Women’s Academy v Australia, Loughborough
Three-day tour match
July 12-14: England v Australia A, Millfield School, Street
July 17: England Women’s Academy v Australia, Millfield School, Street
July 19: England Women’s Academy v Australia, Millfield School, Street