Australia have turned heads in their squad selection for the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in South Africa, naming leg-spinner Georgia Wareham after a lengthy injury layoff.
Wareham beat out fellow leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington to a spot in the squad, replacing Nicola Carey in the group that defeated India 4-1 in a T20I series late last year.
Wareham has not played a T20 match since rupturing her ACL in October 2021, with her only match practice upon her return coming through the Women's National Cricket League 50-over competition.
Fellow leg-spinner Alana King looks to be the preferred choice in the starting XI, with all-rounder Ash Gardner the other spin option in the predicted team.
The return of skipper Meg Lanning means Phoebe Litchfield has been squeezed out as the other change to the squad, while Alyssa Healy has been named in spite of a calf strain that kept her out of multiple matches of the India tour.
Healy will miss the three upcoming home ODIs against Pakistan, but is on track for both the bilateral T20I series against the same team and the Aussies' T20 World Cup defence.
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National selector Shawn Flegler admitted the overall strength in Australia's pool of players makes selection difficult.
"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.
"Meg and Georgia 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."
Nine members of Australia’s triumphant 2020 squad will feature in their trophy defence, with the likes of Tahlia McGrath, Darcie Brown and Heather Graham all on their first T20 World Cup tour.
Grace Harris also makes her first T20 World Cup squad, having been a late withdrawal from the 2016 squad, while Kim Garth makes her first T20 World Cup in Australian colours after playing for Ireland in the 2016 and 2018 editions.
Australia begin its World Cup defence on 12 February against New Zealand, before group games against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and hosts South Africa.
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
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