Australia coach Matthew Mott admits Jess Jonassen’s return to fitness is set to cause some headaches for selectors at November’s Women’s World T20 in the Caribbean.
Jonassen was named in Australia’s 15-player squad for the ICC tournament on Tuesday, pending fitness as she recuperates from knee surgery.
The Queensland left-arm spinner is one of the best at her craft in world cricket and is a logical inclusion as soon as she’s fit and ready.
But in her absence, fellow left-armer Sophie Molineux produced a breakthrough T20I series against New Zealand, stepping into Jonassen’s considerable shoes during the power play and at the death.
The 20-year-old Victorian, who made her T20 debut in India earlier this year, captured four wickets at 15.25 during the three-game series, and only Megan Schutt came close to matching her economy rate of 5.08.
“I thought her series was pretty close to perfect,” Mott told cricket.com.au.
“For a young player, she got better every game.
“A couple of times she got lined up by the Kiwis and she herself said she got a bit floaty, but when she got into the wicket and brought the pitch into play I thought she was as hard as anyone in our attack to face."
With the Caribbean wickets expected to favour the slower bowlers, there’s no reason Jonassen and Molineux can’t line up in the same XI – as they did on three occasions during the India T20 tri-series in March – but just who would make way for Jonassen will give selectors plenty of food for thought over the coming weeks.
“So I’m really impressed with Sophie and when JJ does come back, there’s going to be some really tough selections because we’ve got a bowling group in really good form,” Mott said.
With Jonassen not available for the three-game one-day series against Pakistan beginning in Malaysia next week, Molineux is now poised to add a maiden one-day international cap to her collection.
“She’s a very crafty bowler for someone so young,” Mott explained.
“She can spin the ball past the bat and slide on at different times.
“She seems to be able to read the batters exceptionally well and if they’re moving around the crease, she’ll take the best option at the right time.”
Molineux has been touted as the ‘next big thing’ for Australia since the first season of the Rebel WBBL and while Bairnsdale product – who opens the batting for both Victoria and the Renegades - hasn’t had a chance to show off her talents with the bat as yet, she’s starting to make good on her promise with the ball and in the field.
Her maturity and composure has impressed star Australia allrounder Ellyse Perry, who is excited by what she’s seen from the next generation of players who’ve come into the Australian set-up of late.
“She’s really game smart, really great at adapting to anything New Zealand’s best batters threw at her and she bowled at crucial times,” Perry said.
“It’s been wonderful to watch.
“Add to that (leg-spinner) Georgia Wareham, who’s played her first series and (quick) Tayla Vlaeminck on the sidelines who I’m sure will come in at some time.
“They’re exciting young players who are really challenging the older girls and there’s a really lovely feeling around.”
CommBank Tour of Malaysia
Australia ODI squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
Australia T20 & World T20 squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen (subject to fitness), Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
Pakistan ODI/T20 squad: Javeria Khan (c), Bibi Nahida, Ayesha Zafar, Muneeba Ali Siddiqui, Sidra Amin, Omaima Sohail, Nida Rashid, Sidra Nawaz, Sana Mir, Nashra Sundhu, Anum Amin, Natalia Parvaiz, Aliya Riaz, Diana Baig, Aiman Anwar
October 18: First ODI v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval, Kuala Lumpur
October 20: Second ODI v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
October 22: Third ODI v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
October 25: First T20I v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
October 27: Second T20I v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
October 29: Third T20I v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
2018 ICC Women's World T20
November 9: Australia v Pakistan, Province Stadium, Guyana
November 11: Australia v Ireland, Province Stadium
November 13: Australia v New Zealand, Province Stadium
November 17: Australia v India, Province Stadium
November 22: Semi-finals, Sir Vivian Richards Ground, Antigua
November 24: Final, Sir Vivian Richards Ground