Tayla Vlaeminck is back from injury and the uncapped Darcie Brown is generating plenty of excitement
Rachael Haynes believes Australia’s deepening stock of fast bowlers will provide a “point of difference” for the side as they build towards a 2021-22 schedule that has plenty of big prizes up for grabs.
Tayla Vlaeminck is back in the squad for the tour of New Zealand, for the first time since being ruled out of the T20 World Cup more than a year ago, and is joined by the uncapped Darcie Brown whose potential is creating much excitement in the game after a season where she has impressed in the WBBL and WNCL.
Belinda Vakarewa, who has one ODI cap from the 2017 World Cup, is also part of the squad and the injured Annabel Sutherland is tipped to push the speed gun further. Hannah Darlington, the other new name on the New Zealand tour, has been selected on the back of her death-bowling skillset in t20 while Taneale Peschel and Stella Campbell are among others whose progress will be watched closely.
“It’s really exciting, particularly for Australian cricket, that there’s this depth of fast bowlers,” Haynes, Australia’s vice-captain, told ESPNcricinfo ahead of flying out on Saturday. “Even as little as four years ago our attack was built around off-pace and a lot of spin and now we are talking about having five or six different types of fast bowlers, all of who are capable of bowling around that 120kph mark and because they are young they are going to get quicker. It will be a point of difference for our side and will be really competitive for positions.”
In her brief international appearances before injury Vlaeminck hurried batters, especially in the tri-series which preceded the T20 World Cup just days before a stress fracture in her foot was diagnosed and kept her out of action until the ongoing WNCL.
And during the WNCL, there was an over from Brown that further highlighted her potential after a promising WBBL campaign for Adelaide Strikers. Facing Queensland, she bounced out Georgia Voll then twice beat Beth Mooney with late inswingers that thundered into the pads, the second time trapping her lbw.
“It’s not often you see a player burst onto the scene and bowl fast outswingers, hurry up some of the best players in the world,” Australia coach Matthew Mott said. “You can see that she rushes people, good players. Particularly in New Zealand conditions with the ball swinging I can’t wait to see her over there.
“It will be an incredible learning opportunity for her regardless of whether she gets a start but she’s certainly in the mix. She has a lot of attributes we’ve been searching for.”
South Africa’s Shabnim Ismail leads the line for fast bowlers at the moment – she was regularly clocking above 120kph in the WBBL – and Australia could face Lea Tahuhu if she is fit for the matches later this month. In England, 18-year-old Izzy Wong is tipped for a big future.
Former Australia quick Cathryn Fitzpatrick is considered the greatest of all time but the new generation, at least those countries with well-funded female pathways, have the advantage of access to high performance set-ups from a young age.
“Bringing through players like that requires a big investment in your pathway and talent ID,” Haynes said. “It really is a reflection on what WBBL has done in attracting different types of athletes to the sport.”
Fast bowling is an area Mott has focused a lot of time on while working in the women’s game and can now see the results coming through
“I made it really clear from the moment I was in the game that it was the area that we had the most potential to develop,” he said. “The states deserve a lot of credit and the National Performance Squad with Tay [Vlaeminck] and Annabel [Sutherland] where they learnt how to train properly. Those things have really helped develop some good quicks or are physically capable of doing it and think that’s exciting for the world game.
“The state coaches and national coaches have all had their eye on the prize. If you can encourage these bowlers – because sometimes pace off the ball in women’s cricket is very effective – and wear a short-term lack of results with the bigger prize in mind that really starts to bear fruit.”
There will also be interest in how Ellyse Perry goes with the ball in New Zealand after a season where she has struggled after her return from the serious hamstring injury which ended her T20 World Cup. In the WBBL she took eight wickets at 34.37, and an economy rate of 8.25, and in the WNCL has managed just two wickets in six matches while being Victoria’s most expensive bowler.
“She had some issues with run-up at one stage but she looks as though she’s ironed that our herself and that’s exciting,” Mott said. “She’s one of the greats of all time and the longer she’s on the park the better she will be.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo