ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
'Confident' Molineux welcomed back into Aussie fold
Talented young allrounder returns to the Australian squad for their World Cup defence after re-finding her love of the game
16 January 2020, 08:37 PM AEST
Australia coach Matthew Mott believes allrounder Sophie Molineux has fallen ‘back in love’ with cricket, after returning to the national team for the first time since taking a break to focus on her mental health.
The prodigiously talented 21-year-old walked away from the game during the Rebel WBBL season in November, before returning to play for Victoria last week in the domestic 50-over competition.
Molineux was named in Australia’s 15-player T20 World Cup squad on Thursday after making herself available for national selection, and Mott said there would be no shortage of support for the allrounder as she rejoins the Australian group for the first time since last July’s Ashes in England.
"It's always a delicate one - I don't think there's always an exact right time," Mott said on Thursday.
"I've had a lot of conversations with Sophie over the last month or so about when she'd re-integrate back into the group.
"She's gone through a really exhaustive process and she's confident that she's right.
"But there's no guarantees and it's like any injury that you come back from - there's always a little bit of trepidation about how you go and we're just treating it like that.
"She was back in around the squad yesterday, we had a nice dinner together, she's full of life and fun, and she's welcomed back with open arms."
Molineux, who made her international debut in March 2018, enjoyed a stellar first year at the highest level but her 2019 was hampered by a serious shoulder injury.
She went under the knife after dislocating the joint in a state training mishap last February, returning to play a key role in Australia’s victorious Ashes campaign before missing subsequent series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka as she continued her rehabilitation.
The spin-bowling allrounder impressed in her return to state colours last week, scoring 47 in her first game back and picking up four wickets across two matches.
"(That was) very important, like any player coming back from time out of the game, you want to gain confidence and she came back and did well straight away," Mott said.
"But more importantly, I think she felt like she wanted to play cricket and was back in love with the game.
"That’s what we’ve been trying to do to support that, to make sure she’s got an environment where she’s comfortable and safe and wants to play some good cricket around people she really enjoys the company of."
Australia have also included two players recovering from knee trouble in their World Cup squad – allrounder Erin Burns and quick Tayla Vlaeminck.
Burns had a bone fragment removed from her knee last week and while she will not return to play for NSW in next week’s Women’s National Cricket League, she is on track for the CommBank T20I tri-series that will precede the ICC tournament.
Vlaeminck, meanwhile, has resumed bowling after suffering an ACL strain prior to Christmas.
"Tayla is probably ahead of schedule and we’re just trying to hold her back ahead of the next big thing, but Kate our physio is very happy with where she’s at," Mott said.
"When she first did it she was quite worried about the implications of it, but she’s tracking quite well.
"Erin that’s an interesting one, I actually saw a piece of bone that came out.
"That wasn’t very pretty, but she’s tough, she’s so resilient, she’s dealt with sore knees for most of her career so once she gets the all clear she’ll be fine."
The Australian squad will come together in Sydney later this month for a warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI at Sydney Showgrounds on January 27, ahead of their first CommBank T20I tri-series game in Canberra on February 1.
2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
February 15: Australia v West Indies, Allan Border Field
February 18: Australia v South Africa, Karen Rolton Oval
February 21: Australia v India, Sydney Showgrounds
February 24: Australia v Sri Lanka, WACA Ground
February 27: Australia v Bangladesh, Manuka Oval
March 8: Final, MCG
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE
* All matches will be broadcast on Fox Cricket and Kayo, while Australia’s matches will also be broadcast on the Nine Network