Through much of their most recent campaigns, Australia Women have banked on their spinners, rather than the country’s traditional strength, pace. With Ellyse Perry and Megan Schutt dealing with injuries, Jess Jonassen, the left-arm spinner who was the joint fourth-highest wicket-taker in One-Day Internationals last year, and Kristen Beams, the legspinner, stepped up.
But as the team gets ready to defend its title at the Women’s World Cup in England and Wales starting on June 24, Matthew Mott, the coach, expects his fast bowlers to play a bigger role in conditions that could favour them.
The pace attack was the “missing piece in our jigsaw”, he said in the run-up to the team’s unofficial practice game against New Zealand in Southampton on Wednesday (June 14).
Belinda Vakarewa and Sarah Aley, the two uncapped quicks, have joined the squad, offering more options and, in the words of their coach, “fresh energy” to the group.
“We’ve had a change in the guard, with [Vakarewa and Aley] coming in, they’ve got a great opportunity to show us what they’ve got. They’ve performed well at the level below,” he said. “I think the pace unit is the one – if we get that box ticked, we’ll be very hard to beat. Our spinners have done a great job over the last couple of years, but then again these are different conditions, maybe the ball will seam a bit more. We’re definitely targeting some early inroads into teams in that first Power Play.”
— Australia Women ???? (@SouthernStars) June 13, 2017
Ahead of the team’s departure to England, Perry had admitted the pacers “had a fair bit of work to do” to lift their game. Mott, for one, seemed happy with the work they had put in.
“Megan Schutt is back swinging the ball. She’s got a shortened run-up, but looks really explosive at the crease. Last year was a tough year for her, injury-wise, coming back. But she seems to be hungry and ready to go.
“Ellyse has done a lot of work in the last few months, getting herself right after a pretty injury plagued last season so it’s there for them. The skills are there and the want is there, hope it all comes together for the tournament.”
Nicole Bolton, the opener, too backed her teammates. “Schutt is going to be pretty excited to come here and bowl. She’s been seaming it around, back to her old ways, which is great to see,” she said. “She’s done a mountain of work up in Brisbane, so it’s great to see she’s back bowling her best.”