Australia head coach Matthew Mott expects his team’s depth to be tested at next month’s Women’s World Cup, but he believes the top-ranked Southern Stars can rise to the challenge.
Australia are expected to name their final 15-player squad for the one-day tournament this week, but there have already been three confirmed names who won’t be in that touring party, with left-arm quick Lauren Cheatle and seam-bowling allrounder Tahlia MGrath sidelined by injury, while veteran pace bowler Rene Farrell announced her retirement from ODIs last month.
Mott admitted the trio’s absence was a blow to their fast bowling stocks – with fellow quick Holly Ferling also on the comeback trail after elbow surgery earlier this year – but believes other members of the Southern Stars’ 20-player preliminary squad are ready to step up in their absence.
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“We’ve had a few injuries which is never nice, but I think there’s still enough options for us for a 15-player squad,” Mott told cricket.com.au.
“Cheatle was a big loss, we all envisaged her playing a big role in England where the ball swings more and with the new ball she could have been devastating.
“Rene has years of experience … and would have been part of our thinking, and you throw in Tahlia McGrath who impressed on the Sri Lanka tour … that’s three big blows really.
“But I’m sure all the other teams have had their niggles so we won’t dwell on it.”
Mott has spent the last three weeks with the preliminary squad at a pre-tournament camp at Brisbane’s Bupa National Cricket Centre, and is confident that the players who make the final group of 15 will be capable of helping the No.1 Southern Stars to a seventh World Cup title.
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“There are some tough decisions but we want to make sure that in that 15, if someone from the top 11 falls out, we’ve got a ready-made replacement.
“It will be the 15 who can be ready for all occasions if something goes wrong.
“Our batters are in good nick and the spinners paved way for us in the last couple of series, so there’s plenty to look forward to.
“When you lose something, you also create opportunities for others.
“We’re getting our depth tested on this occasion and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
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Candidates to replace Cheatle and Farrell in Australia’s ODI squad include Ferling, who last played for the Southern Stars against South Africa last November, veteran NSW bowler Sarah Aley who toured with the T20I squad in February without making an international debut, and teenager Belinda Vakarewa, who toured Sri Lanka with the Australia A team last month.
“The likes of Belinda Vakarewa have come along and shown plenty,” Mott said.
“Holly’s done extremely well, she had elbow surgery not that long ago and she’s a bit rusty but she’s put every effort into what she can control.
“Aley is your ultimate professional, she came up here and even added a bit more with the bat then we thought … and she fits into our bowling plans and hits the stumps a lot.
“She’s put a very strong case forward as well.”
While the fast-bowling selections have given selectors plenty to think about, Mott couldn’t be happier when it comes to his batters.
“I think there’s a lot of batters in great nick at the moment, they’re hitting the ball really nicely.
“The bowlers are ticking over, they’re perhaps a little bit rusty but they’ve still got time.
“We need to peak for the World Cup and (bowling coach) Joe Dawes is happy with how they’re all progressing.”
Australia’s World Cup squad will head to England early next month, with their World Cup campaign to kick off against West Indies in Taunton on June 26.
Australia's World Cup schedule
June 26: Australia v West Indies, Taunton
June 29: Australia v Sri Lanka, Bristol
July 2: Australia v New Zealand, Bristol
July 5: Australia v Pakistan, Leicester
July 9: Australia v England, Bristol
July 12: Australia v India, Bristol
July 15: Australia v South Africa, Taunton
July 18: First semi-final, Bristol
July 20: Second semi-final, Derby
July 23: Final, Lord's
Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes schedule
October 22: First ODI, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
October 26: Second ODI, Coffs Intl Stadium, Coffs Harbour
October 29: Third ODI, Coffs Intl Stadium, Coffs Harbour
November 9-12: Day-night Test, North Sydney Oval, Sydney
November 17: First T20I: North Sydney Oval, Sydney
November 19: First T20I: Manuka Oval, Canberra
November 21: First T20I: Manuka Oval, Canberra