Left-arm quick Lauren Cheatle has earnt a national call-up for the first time in almost five years and could make her Test debut on Australia’s tour of India.
Australia announced a 16-player squad for the seven-match tour in December and January, with a captain yet to be named as the team searches for a permanent successor to retired champion Meg Lanning.
Wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy has been named in the squad despite concerns over her recent finger injury and is favourite to take the reins of the side after captaining in Lanning’s absence over the last 18 months.
Cheatle, who has been named as a Test-only squad member and will interchange with batting livewire Grace Harris for the limited overs games, will play her first game for Australia since March 2019 if picked for the four-day match beginning on December 21 at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
After debuting as a teenager before illness and injury stalled her career, the 25-year-old has enjoyed an ultra consistent WBBL campaign, picking up two wickets in nine of her 10 games on the way to an equal-high 19 wickets at 13.68.
Women’s cricket head of performance and national selector Shawn Flegler said Cheatle’s experience playing in India had been important to her selection.
“Lauren Cheatle has overcome significant injury setbacks and thoroughly deserves her place in the squad through her performances over the past six months,” Flegler said.
“Lauren has playing experience in India and provides another fast-bowling option, particularly in regard to the Test match which is the format she has been selected for.
“At this stage, we’re planning for Lauren to return to Australia ahead of the white ball formats to play WNCL.”
Flegler said Healy would continue to be monitored by CA staff, as her finger remains in a splint despite showing signs of progress.
“We’re obviously very hopeful she will be available for the Test, but those decisions are still a while away,” he said.
He said Darcie Brown (hamstring) was back bowling and set to be available for the Test.
There was no room for seam bowler Hannah Darlington despite her blistering start to the WBBL season with the Sydney Thunder, with Heather Graham joining Megan Schutt and the in-form Kim Garth as the specialist quick options for the limited overs games.
Flegler said a thorough process was underway to appoint Australia’s next captain, who appears set to take charge in all formats as Lanning did.
“We have commenced the process to confirm an ongoing captain appointment, which will be confirmed closer to the tour,” he said.
Australia tour of India squad
Darcie Brown (SA / Adelaide Strikers / Northern Districts CC)
Lauren Cheatle (NSW / Sydney Sixers / Campbelltown Camden District CC)*
Heather Graham (TAS / Hobart Hurricanes / Clarence District CC)
Ashleigh Gardner (NSW / Sydney Sixers / Bankstown CC)
Kim Garth (VIC / Melbourne Stars / Dandenong CC)
Grace Harris (QLD / Brisbane Heat / Western Suburbs CC)**
Alyssa Healy (NSW / Sydney Sixers / Sydney CC)
Jess Jonassen (QLD / Brisbane Heat / Valley Districts CC)
Alana King (WA / Perth Scorchers / Midland Guildford CC)
Phoebe Litchfield (NSW / Sydney Thunder / Sydney University CC)
Tahlia McGrath (SA / Adelaide Strikers / Glenelg CC)
Beth Mooney (WA / Perth Scorchers / Sandgate-Redcliffe CC)
Ellyse Perry (VIC / Sydney Sixers / Dandenong CC)
Megan Schutt (SA / Adelaide Strikers / Sturt CC)
Annabel Sutherland (VIC / Melbourne Stars / Prahran CC)
Georgia Wareham (VIC / Melbourne Renegades / Essendon Maribyrnong Park CC)
*Test squad only
**T20 squad only
Tour of India schedule
21 Dec – 24 Dec: Test match | Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
28 Dec: First ODI | Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
30 Dec: Second ODI | Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
2 Jan: Third ODI | Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
5 Jan: First T20I | DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
7 Jan: Second T20I | DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
9 Jan: Third T20I | DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
Originally published as Lauren Cheatle returns to Australian squad for India Test