Delay a boost for Vlaeminck's World Cup bid
Having cruelly missed Australia's 2020 World Cup win, the postponement of the event in New Zealand was a welcome relief for Tayla Vlaeminck
12 February 2021, 08:11 AM AEST
Tayla Vlaeminck has an admission to make.
When the International Cricket Council announced that the 2021 ODI Women's World Cup had been postponed by 12 months due to the COVID19 pandemic, she was firmly in the minority as someone who welcomed the decision.
The tournament had been widely expected to go ahead, given New Zealand's success at containing the pandemic, and the call to shift the event to March-April 2022 left many surprised, and plenty of players gutted.
But, for Vlaeminck, in the midst of the long, hard rehabilitation slog after a stress fracture in her right foot shattered her home T20 World Cup dream early in 2020, the decision bought her something precious: time.
"Selfishly I was pretty pumped," a laughing Vlaeminck told cricket.com.au on Thursday, at the launch of The Record, a new two-part series documenting Australia's triumphant campaign at that T20 event.
While Vlaeminck believes she could have made it back in time for that ODI World Cup had it started this month as planned, she conceded she would not have been at full fitness, and her ability to impact a 50-over tournament featuring seven round matches before finals would have been limited.
"Hopefully touch wood I can be fit for that World Cup and just be a normal athlete and not have restrictions, and not be constantly thinking about my foot and just focus on my cricket," she added.
The 22-year-old, considered Australia's fastest female bowler, made a long-awaited return to elite cricket on Wednesday when she opened the bowling for Victoria in their domestic 50-over clash against New South Wales.
It came almost a year to the day since her last appearance at the top level, in the T20I tri-series final against India on February 12, 2020.
"I can't put it into words to be honest," Vlaeminck said of her comeback.
"I had the biggest smile on my face all day.
"I was extremely nervous taking the ball at the start, it was a weird feeling, but it was an unbelievable day."
She sent down seven overs – her workloads are still being managed as she works her way back into the game – and while she didn't take a wicket, she proved her signature searing pace and bounce had not been hampered by her lengthy lay-off.
"It';s a funny one; initially, it's a little bit hard getting your body back into the same positions where its failed you before, but I'm also a really competitive person so I want to go at 100 per cent," Vlaeminck continued.
"It's hard trying to stick to the plan (of easing back in) but hopefully in the next couple of months I can get back to being free to play however (I want)."
Australia's medical staff took the conservative route with Vlaeminck';s return, knowing the Bendigo product is a precious commodity, but also that the national team's schedule will be jam-packed during the first half of 2022, when they'll host an Ashes, play the ODI World Cup and compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Last year, Australia coach Matthew Mott likened the injury-plagued quick – who has previously undergone two knee reconstructions and also dislocated her shoulder – to Australia men's speedster Pat Cummins.
Patience would be the key, he said, with Vlaeminck tipped to be a 10-year player at the highest level.
"It means a lot to me that people like Motty have faith in me and believe I can be a long-term player," Vlaeminck said.
"But living in it and being patient is quite challenging, especially when you';re around the other girls all the time and you can see everyone getting better and better, and you're just sitting there watching.
"But that conversation with Motty and the faith they have in me definitely helped."
A trip to New Zealand – host of that ICC event – may yet be on the cards for the quick in the immediate future, with Australia to head across the Tasman for a limited-overs series next month, with Australia team physiotherapist Kate Beerworth telling cricket.com.au earlier this month Vlaeminck was in line to return to the green and gold, should she make a successful return for Victoria.