Fast five chasing one Ashes spot
A glut of talented young quicks means the competition is going to be intense when it comes to earning a spot in Australia's women's Ashes squad
10 April 2019, 01:36 PM AEST
A quintet of young quicks will do battle for a spot in Australia's squad for this July's women's Ashes in the United Kingdom.
A successful period means stability for Meg Lanning's team and no great surprises are expected to be sprung when their touring party for the multi-format Ashes – which comprise three ODIs, one Test and three T20Is – is named in the coming months.
But there is likely to be one spot available for a fast bowler, at least for the ODI and Test legs, while there's also an injury cloud hanging over left-arm spinning allrounder Sophie Molineux, who underwent shoulder surgery in late February and who is facing a race against time to be fit for the tour of the UK.
Those in contention will have a chance to impress during camps at Brisbane's Bupa National Cricket Centre throughout May.
"I think we're pretty close (to knowing the squad), there's just a few injuries," national selector Shawn Flegler told cricket.com.au.
"We're holding back until the end of May (to make) those selections but it's been a pretty stable side over the last year or two, so I can't see that changing."
Among those hoping to impress is 20-year-old right-arm quick Tayla Vlaeminck, who made her international debut last October before being ruled out of the recent ODI series against New Zealand after suffering a knee injury during the Rebel WBBL.
The Bendigo product is due to begin bowling again this month and will need to convince selectors she is firing on all cylinders to be included for the tour.
Other contenders include Lauren Cheatle, who returned to Australia's ODI side against the White Ferns and whose left-arm pace offers a point of difference, while fellow NSW pace bowler Belinda Vakarewa was part of Australia's squad that contested the 50-over World Cup in the UK in 2017.
Tahlia McGrath, who played in Australia's most recent Test in November 2017, and uncapped ACT bowler Maitlan Brown are other contenders.
All five are part of the 2019 National Performance Squad that was named last week, and they'll spend three weeks training in Brisbane under the watchful eyes of coaches and selectors throughout May.
"Those five players are certainly in the mix," Flegler said. "Cheatle and Vlaeminck played for Australia last summer, Maitlan had a really good off-season and prepared really well, Vakarewa has played in a World Cup and McGrath was in the last Ashes squad.
"So we've got some good options I think, it depends on how they train.
"Tayla is coming back from an injury as well, so there are a few things up in the air and hopefully they all put themselves up for selection."
One thing in Australia's favour is the fact that for the first time, an Australia A tour of the UK will run concurrently to the Ashes.
It means those players who miss selection in the main Ashes squad will still have a chance to prove themselves in the local conditions – and will be close at hand, should they be required at short notice.
"We've said to all the NPS girls that (being in that program) doesn't guarantee you Australia A selection, but it does give you an opportunity to work on your game and put yourself in the frame," Flegler added.
"We've told them to prepare as if you're going to play and get yourselves ready.
"The beauty is if something happens over there and you're on the Australia A tour, you can slot straight in."
CommBank Ashes Tour of England
First ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 2
Second ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 4
Third ODI St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, July 7
First T20 County Ground, Chelmsford, July 26
Second T20 The County Ground, Hove, July 28
Third T20 Bristol County Ground, Bristol, July 31