Sophie Molineux has returned to the Australia side after she took mental health leave and the teenager Annabel Sutherland is in line for her international debut at the T20 World Cup that will culminate in the tournament final at the MCG on March 8 – international women’s day.
In a squad that will face enormous expectations to defend the title they won in the Caribbean in 2018, Molineux and Sutherland were the standout additions to what is an otherwise highly settled group, forcing out the likes of Molly Strano, Tahlia McGrath, Belinda Vakarewa and Heather Graham from an event that the Australian team has been building towards for quite some time.
Led by Meg Lanning, the tournament hosts will also take part in a preliminary triangular series against England and India, before warm-up matches against West Indies and South Africa. They kick-off the T20 World Cup proper against India at Sydney Showground on February 21.
“This was an incredibly difficult side to pick with selectors looking at the overall mix of the squad and the roles required, and we feel we’ve got great cover for all teams and scenarios,” the national selector Shawn Flegler said. “The tri-series will be the perfect warm-up against two of the best sides in the world and will give the team the chance to finalise its preparations ahead of the World Cup.
“We’ve had a really stable squad over the last few years and having players such as Molly Strano, Tahlia McGrath, Belinda Vakarewa and Heather Graham miss out illustrates the depth of Australian cricket. All four of these players are really unlucky to miss out but at the same time could come into the side at any stage and play a role.
“We’re really please for Annabel Sutherland, who has been playing domestic cricket for a few years now, as well as being a part of Australia A and Under-19 sides. She has progressed significantly over the past few months. Anyone who has seen her play will know how special a talent she is, and we know that if called upon she’ll be able to play a variety of roles in the side. This will be another terrific experience for someone who we see as the future of Australian cricket.”
Molineux, 21, withdrew from this season’s WBBL to look after her mental health after playing the Melbourne Renegades’ first 10 games of the competition, and will be closely monitored by the national team’s staff over the build-up to the T20 World Cup.
“It’s also really pleasing to welcome Sophie Molineux back into the side, having spent some time out of the game for mental health reasons and getting her shoulder right,” Flegler said. “She was part of the side that won the 2018 World Cup and is a multi-skilled player that offers us another left-arm spinning option alongside Jess Jonassen. Sophie made herself available for both tours and we’ll continue to manage her health as we go along. Her health is our number one priority.
“For most players this was one of the biggest selections of their career with not many people getting to play in a World Cup in front of a home crowd, but we’re really confident this squad can go out and defend its title and do Australia proud.”
Squad Meg Lanning (capt), Rachael Haynes, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
Source: ESPN Crickinfo