Thursday, March 4, 2021

Seventeen-year-old Darcie Brown included in Australia squad for New Zealand tour | Australia women’s cricket team


A succession plan for Australia’s dominant women’s team is well under way following the latest injection of youth into the squad for the upcoming white-ball tour of New Zealand.

Australia’s rich depth of talent was highlighted on Tuesday when Darcie Brown, 17, and Hannah Darlington, 19, were named in the national squad for the first time.

The pair and will travel across the Tasman Sea for three Twenty20s and three one-day internationals, starting in late March and running into April.

There is no evidence Meg Lanning’s all-conquering side is nearing the end of an era, but chief selector Shawn Flegler said it was prudent to look beyond the stars currently on the team sheet and keep one eye on the future.

“You’ve got to be looking ahead. We’ve got an amazing team right now, it’s a strong team,” Flegler said.

“We’ve been able to introduce some young players over the last couple of years in Annabel [Sutherland, 19] and Sophie [Molineux, 23] and Georgia [Wareham, 21], and Tahlia McGrath [25] has had a couple of games here and there as well. But you’ve got to keep evolving as a team.”

Pointing to India’s decision to blood young players on the international stage, Flegler said: “You can’t sit still as the competition from around the world is getting stronger and stronger. It’s important our young players get that international experience where possible as well.

“We’ve got probably some of the best players in the history of Australian cricket playing right now but at some point the end comes for everyone so we need to make sure that team keeps evolving and gets stronger. And that will have to take place over the next few years.”

Ellyse Perry and Tayla Vlaeminck have also been included on the 17-woman list after both made encouraging comebacks from injury over the summer.

But it is Brown’s inclusion that most catches the eye given the promising fast bowler’s breakout WBBL season with the Adelaide Strikers, in which she claimed 10 wickets at 22.10. She has also impressed so far this WNCL campaign with the SA Scorpions.

“We’ve seen this wave of young players coming through, they’re getting experience in the WBBL,” Flegler said. “We need to find opportunities for those next best players at an international level.

“The depth of talent in Australia is great. The challenge is finding the right opportunities at the right time for those players.”

Darlington also enjoyed a stellar year in her second WBBL season and she played a key role in the Sydney Thunder’s title win.

“She has been brought into the squad primarily with a T20 focus as we look towards both the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa,” Flegler said.

Australia will get the opportunity to make history in the opening game of the ODI series on 4 April, when they will aim to win a record-breaking 22nd consecutive one-day match.

They were denied the chance to pass the 21-game mark they currently share with Ricky Ponting’s Australia side when a series slated for January against India was postponed due to Covid.

Australia’s women have not played a game since last October, when they sealed a 3-0 one-day sweep of New Zealand, off the back of a 2-1 series win in the 20-over format.

Australia squad: Meg Lanning, Rachael Haynes, Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham.

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