Ashleigh Gardner backed Australia’s top order to produce when it matters with crunch time looming at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup.
- Australia’s attacking batting line-up, of which Gardner plays a major part, is expected to fire on home tracks
- The top-order stars haven’t always hit their potential in recent weeks with mixed results in the tri-series with India and England
- Alyssa Healy (148 not out) and Meg Lanning (133 not out) boast the two highest scores in WT20I history
The hosts scooped a statement victory in a tri-series with India and England but didn’t have it all their own way as they prepare to defend their world title on home soil.
A lean run for star keeper-batter Alyssa Healy - four single-digit scores her worst slump since 2013 - is cause for concern but Gardner insists her side will stick to their gung-ho approach when the stakes are high.
“We play an attacking brand of cricket, especially myself and Midge (Healy), and we don't do so well when we move away from that,” the 22-year-old told a gaggle of media on Friday morning.
“We know we have the backing of our staff and team-mates and when it doesn't come off, we know to still play our natural way.
“Sometimes that works well and that's when we make big scores and people have good personal success.
“There’s a lot more to come from us with the bat. Beth Mooney has done really well at the top, but the batters around her haven't done amazingly. That's something we can improve on a little bit.
“I don't think there's too much pressure, but Midge is itching to score runs and hopefully the World Cup is when she's going to turn things around and start making some runs for herself and the team.”
Australia get their World Cup campaign underway against India on 21 February, but first come warm-up matches against West Indies in Brisbane on Saturday and South Africa in Adelaide on 18 February.
The 10-team mega tournament is capturing the attention of the Australian public, with the prospect of the final at Melbourne Cricket Ground on 8 March firing the imagination.
Record attendances for women's sport could fall and with an hour-long show from Katy Perry set to accompany the action, the reach of the event looks set to stretch far beyond traditional cricketing audiences.
Pace sensation Tayla Vlaeminck made her debut at the 2018 T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and comes into the seventh edition of the showpiece as one of the game’s most feared bowlers.
The 21-year-old was in the crowd for the men’s 50-over World Cup final in 2015 and the prospect of getting the MCG on its feet gives the youngster goosebumps.
"It's starting to feel real. The lead-up has been unreal, and we're just all really pumped to get into it,” said Vlaeminck.
"To play in a World Cup full stop is pretty amazing. I was lucky enough to do that for the first time in the West Indies, so to do that for the first time in front of my family and friends, on pitches we play and train at all the time, is going to be unbelievable.
"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about the final. I was lucky enough to be there at the men's 50-over World Cup final and to be in that crowd was pretty impressive.
“I remember Mitch Starc knocking out Brendon McCullum’s stumps, and the crowd went nuts.
“We've got a long way to go and we've got a really tough pool so we'll have to be at our best, but it would be a pretty incredible experience if we happen to get there.”
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