Australia looked to the leg-spin success stories of T20 cricket when selecting uncapped Victorian teenager Georgia Wareham in their squad to play New Zealand this month, coach Matthew Mott says.
Wrist-spinner Wareham, 19, was one of two inclusions in the Australian side for the three-match series against the White Ferns alongside a fellow country Victorian in Tayla Vlaeminck.
Her ability to turn the ball both ways, and to bowl leg-spin with pace – attributes that have seen the likes of Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Pakistan’s Shadab Khan reap rewards in the KFC BBL – convinced Australian selectors to take a chance on the teenager, who made her Rebel WBBL debut aged just 16 in 2015.
“Georgia is a really consistent bowler, she had a great tour of South Africa (with Australia’s under-19s) earlier this year,” Mott told cricket.com.au on Wednesday.
“She just bowls a lot of good balls, spins the ball both ways and asks a lot of questions of the batters.
“If we’re following the men’s trends, the bowlers who’ve done well in T20s are leg-spinners who bowl reasonably quick and who spin it both ways. That’s what we were looking at mostly from her.”
Teenager Rashid was the success story of BBL|07, topping the wickets tally with 18 scalps from 11 matches, and he has since risen to the top of the ICC’s T20I bowling rankings.
Wareham made a major impression on Australia’s Under-19 tour of South Africa in April – including taking 4-17 in a 50-over match – with CA high performance coach Leah Poulton noting later: “She didn’t bowl a bad ball in South Africa … I haven’t seen a young leggie do that before.”
The Mortlake product has been compared to recent Australia representative Kristen Beams for her accuracy and control.
“In our trial games she bowled in some tough situations when batters were set and she took some key wickets,” Mott said.
“Plus, her all-round game is very good, I think she’ll end up being one of our best fielders as well.”
Omitted from the squad at Wareham’s expense was leggie Amanda-Jade Wellington, but Matthew Mott says the door remains open for the South Australian to make a return.
Wellington played three of seven matches in Australia’s tri-series in India in March, bowling just four overs in total.
The 21-year-old has forged a reputation early in her career for her ability to toss the ball up and give it a rip, a method the likes of Shane Warne (Wellington’s hero) and Stuart MacGill had huge success with.
But she hasn’t yet completely nailed the variations or control required in a 20-over game that’s seeing batters become increasingly aggressive and run rates continue to rise.
"I had a really good catch up with Wello, she’s obviously disappointed,” Mott said.
“She just needs to work on a few things with her bowling in T20s, we think she’s got another step to go when it comes to asking a few more questions of the batters with both sides of the bat and her all-round package.
“I think she’s improving as a batter but in our team she’s probably more of a late-order batter, so it's about getting a bit more dynamic with the batting, getting between the wickets a bit quicker and improving her fielding.
“She’s been given clear instructions on the way back in but she remains a player of great interest to us - she's potentially a world-class bowler and to be honest, if it was a one-day focus here selection might be a bit different but in T20 we just want everyone to be very strong in at least two facets of the game.”
Both Wareham and Vlaeminck, a fast bowler, have spent the winter training with the National Performance Squad in Brisbane under the watchful eye of Poulton.
Those nine weeks of intensive training, as well as trial matches alongside Australian players, has Mott confident the Melbourne Renegades pair can easily step into international cricket.
“It’s a great message for the WBBL, what a breeding ground that’s been already,” Mott said.
“And the NPS is a great program. One of the things for those two in particular was that both (captain) Meg Lanning and (vice-captain) Rachael Haynes spent a lot of time in the program training with them.
“That gave us the confidence to be able to select them, first and foremost, and to watch them and get excited about the skills they bring but even more is their maturity.
“They’re just cricketers who love competing, the way they chase the ball to the boundary and their athleticism.”
Australia T20 squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
Cricket Australia XI: Nicole Bolton (c), Naomi Stalenberg, Heather Graham, Rachel Trenaman, Tahlia McGrath, Josie Dooley, Molly Strano, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Maitlan Brown, Lauren Cheatle, Belinda Vakarewa, Annabel Sutherland
CommBank T20 INTLs v NZ
September 29: First T20I, North Sydney Oval, Sydney
October 1: Second T20I, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
October 5: Third T20I, Manuka Oval, Canberra