Teenage batting phenom Phoebe Litchfield is one step closer to an international call-up after being included in a 15-player squad for Australia’s upcoming tour of India.
The 19-year-old and former Irish bowler Kim Garth were the standout inclusions in the group that will be captained by Alyssa Healy in the absence of Meg Lanning.
Tasmanian all-rounder Heather Graham also earnt a call-up on the back of 237 runs and eight wickets for the Hobart Hurricanes in the WBBL.
National selection chief Shawn Flegler said Litchfield had taken her game “to another level” in the WBBL this season for the Sydney Thunder, finishing the season as the team’s leading run scorer with 280 runs and two half-centuries.
The selections, for five T20 games in India, come just over two months before Australia heads to South Africa to defend the T20 World Cup title Lanning’s team won in 2020.
“We’ve had an eye on Phoebe for a while and she’s really taken her game to the next level this summer,” Flegler said.
“She’s made her mark at the top of the order for the Sydney Thunder and we’re looking forward to seeing what she can do in Australian colours.
“These five matches form an important part of the team’s preparations for the upcoming T20 World Cup in South Africa as well as providing an opportunity for some players to gain some experience in Indian conditions.”
Veteran all-rounder Ellyse Perry held her spot after a bumper WBBL with the bat, but there will be no Lanning, who remains on a self-imposed break, with vice-captain Rachael Haynes also moving into retirement.
Healy will lead the team having been elevated to vice-captaincy after Haynes’ announcement.
“Without Meg and Rachael, this series will provide opportunities for players particularly in the top order, so we’re looking forward to seeing who puts their hand up,” Flegler said.
“It’s pleasing to have been able to reward Phoebe, Kim and Heather for strong form throughout the WBBL and hopefully they get the chance to show what they can do at some stage during the series.”
Garth, an opening bowler, could get her first turn in Australian colours having begun her international career with Ireland as a 14-year-old before going on to play more than 100 games for her country of birth.
Now 26 and an Australian citizen, she has been starring for Victoria and the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash.
“Kim’s another who’s been in our thinking. She’s had a couple of strong seasons with the ball and adds extra depth to our pace bowling stocks,” Flegler said.
“Heather hasn’t had many opportunities to break into the side, but she’s toiled away with both bat and ball in domestic cricket. She adds depth to the middle order and provides Shelley and Alyssa with another pace-bowling option.”
The Australians will play five T20s in India from December 9-20
Alyssa Healy (C), Tahlia McGrath, Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland
AUSTRALIAN TOUR OF INDIA
1st T20I: Friday, 9 December, DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12.30am AEDT
2nd T20I: Sunday, 11 December, DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12.30am AEDT
3rd T20I: Wednesday, 14 December, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12.30am AEDT
4th T20I: Saturday, 17 December, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12.30am AEDT
5th T20I: Tuesday, 20 December, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12.30am AEDT
Story Credit: news.com.au