Australia fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck has been ruled out of the home series against New Zealand starting next month and the WBBL after a setback in her recovery from the foot injury that forced her to miss the T20 World Cup.
Maitlan Brown, who plays for Australian Capital Territory and the Melbourne Renegades, has earned her first call-up to a national squad while Belinda Vakarewa has also been included in an enlarged 18-player group for the T20I and ODI matches against New Zealand due to the restrictions around Covid-19.
After missing the semi-final and final of the T20 World Cup due to a hamstring injury, Ellyse Perry has been included in the squad but her fitness will be assessed nearer the matches.
The matches against New Zealand will be Australia’s first cricket since the T20 World Cup final on March 8 and could yet be the first top-level women’s international action since the pandemic if England do not manage to arrange some fixtures next month.
With the Women’s ODI World Cup is now postponed until 2022, the focus has shifted somewhat from preparing for that tournament. The initial hope had been that Vlaeminck, one of the fastest bowlers in the world but who has a history of injury, would be ready for that event, however now there will be a cautious approach taken.
“Tayla had a recurrence of right medial ankle pain three weeks ago as she was working through her rehab from the navicular stress fracture she sustained in February,” Australian physiotherapist Kate Beerworth said. “Her recovery has been trending in the right direction but it’s just not going to be soon enough for the demands on international cricket and a busy Big Bash schedule.
“The tricky nature of a navicular injury means it’s more a long-term play and we’ll be guided by Tayla’s symptoms as we look to get her back to full fitness. She’s only young and it’s important we look after her future, so we won’t rush anything.”
Vlaeminck is the only centrally-contracted player not to make the squad with allrounder Erin Burns and offspinner Molly Strano, who were both part of the T20 World Cup squad, joining Brown and Vakarewa from outside that group.
Brown took 16 wickets in last season’s WBBL for the Renegades and seven wickets for the ACT in the WNCL. She has featured in Australia A sides in recent seasons including against India A last December.
“Tayla is your true tear-away quick which we love, but we need to make sure we look after her long-term future,” national selector Shawn Flegler said. “She’s going to be a serious long-term player for Australia.
“Ellyse is progressing well from a significant hamstring injury and we want to give her every chance to be available for selection, so we’ll continue to monitor her progress over the coming weeks.
“The door has really opened for players like Maitlan, who joins the squad for the first time, and fellow fast-bowler Belinda who has previously represented Australia. Belinda only just missed out on T20 World Cup selection while Maitlan has impressed through her time in the National Performance Squad and Australia A.
“New Zealand always present a great challenge and this series will be no different. While nothing is guaranteed in the current climate it’s pleasing to be able to prepare for a series like this and thanks must go to all the people working behind the scenes to make it possible.”
The tour includes a three-match T20I series due to start on September 27 with all the games played at North Sydney Oval followed by three ODIs in Townsville, Cairns and the Gold Coast although the fixture list remains subject to change.