Just two games after returning from a serious knee injury, leg-spinner Georgia Wareham is the surprise inclusion in the 15-player Australian squad named to defend the T20 World Cup in South Africa in February.
Wareham, who has played 35 T20s for Australia and was part of the squad that secured the World Cup title at the MCG in March 2020, has played two one-day games for Victoria after returning from an ACL injury.
She got the nod over fellow leggie Amanda-Jade Wellington, who missed selection despite being the third leading wicket-taker in the WBBL and having been part of Australia’s tour of India last November.
Wellington, Nicola Carey and teenager Phoebe Litchfield were the unlucky players dropped from that squad to accommodate Wareham and returning captain Meg Lanning in the group that will seek to snare back-to-back titles.
Former Irish international Kim Garth and Heather Graham, who took a hat-trick in India, also hold their spots after making their T20I debuts in December.
Carey, injured Sophie Molineux and retirees Rachael Haynes and Delissa Kimmince are the players from the successful 2020 campaign who won’t be part of the title defence.
National selection boss Shawn Flegler said the omitted trio were on standby and praised Wareham’s resilience to return to cricket after injury.
“It’s always tough to narrow a squad down to just 15 players, but we’re confident we’ve picked a well-balanced side that’s well placed for the series against Pakistan and ready to challenge for a third consecutive T20 title,” Flegler said, with the same 15 set to play six games against Pakistan starting on January 16.
“Seeing Meg and Georgia back in action for Victoria has been exciting. Both bring a wealth of experience to the group, which is always crucial during major tournaments.
“Georgia, in particular, has had a tough run of injuries, but she’s shown a great deal of resilience and her return is a real boost for the side.”
Alyssa Healy will return from a calf injury and spinner Jess Jonassen has overcome a hamstring issue to rejoin the team.
“Alyssa and Jess are expected to be fully fit and firing after minor injuries as well, so we’ve got a full-strength squad with plenty of variety with both bat and ball if required,” Flegler said.
“Heather and Kim both impressed when given the chance during the India series, and we know they are ready to perform their role if the opportunity presents.
“Unfortunately, there was no room for Nicola, Phoebe or Amanda-Jade, but they’re still well and truly in our plans and are on standby should they be required.”
Australia will begin its World Cup defence on February 12 against trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand before rounding out the pool games against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
AUSTRALIAN WORLD CUP SQUAD:
Meg Lanning (c), Alyssa Healy (vc), Darcie Brown, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham.
AUSTRALIA’S WORLD CUP FIXTURES
12 February: Australia v New Zealand, 7pm local time (4am AEDT), Boland Park, Paarl
15 February: Australia v Bangladesh, 7pm local time (4am AEDT), St George‘s Park, Port Elizabeth
16 February: Sri Lanka v Australia, 3pm local time (12am AEDT), St George‘s Park, Port Elizabeth
19 February: South Africa v Australia, 7pm local time (4am AEDT), St George‘s Park, Port Elizabeth
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