Photo Credit: Sydney Thunder
Rising Sydney Thunder star Phoebe Litchfield has been selected by the Cricket Australia National Selection Panel (NSP) in a 15-player squad for the Australian Women’s Team’s upcoming five-match T20I series in India.
Litchfield is in line to make her T20I debut after being named in her first Australian squad.
The 19-year-old topped the Sydney Thunder’s WBBL|08 run-scorer’s list with 280, and at a strike rate of 117.64. Her WBBL campaign was crowned by two well-crafted half centuries.
The left-handed top order batter’s selection follows the retirement of her Sydney Thunder captain – and idol – Rachael Haynes, and the years of work she’s invested in securing her spot as a top-order batter for NSW and Thunder.
“I guess with the loss of retirement of Rach, and Meg Lanning’s taking a break they needed a specialist batter in the top order,” Litchfield said when asked what she thought the selectors saw in her.
“I’ve been trying to solidify my spot in the top order; I’ve scored some runs, and I guess they’ve seen it.”
Litchfield, who has represented Australia A and the Governor-General’s XI, did not hide the impact Haynes had on her career long before they joined forces at Thunder.
“Rach has been my idol for so long, and I’ve mirrored my game on her,” said Litchfield.
“She’s a left-hander and an awesome fielder, and I’ve tried to be the same. To be the player selected to take her place is an honour.
“I don’t know if it was meant to be a like-for-like replacement, but it’s pretty cool. I am sad to see her go, but it is an awesome opportunity.”
While Litchfield has been long touted by judges as a future international, she described being told that she’d be a member of Australia’s next touring squad felt “surreal.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” she enthused. “When I got off the phone, I said aloud to myself: “I’m going to India!’ And I kept saying ‘I’m going to India!’ to myself.”
Litchfield said children throughout regional NSW and country areas across the rest of Australia should see her selection in the national squad as proof dreams can come true, and of the value of the programs that are available to them.
“Anything is possible,” she said. “It also says the country programs is going in the right direction. My selection is also a reward for my family. It has been a goal for me and my father that I’d one day play for Australia, and I’m happy we’ll share this moment [of[my being picked for the squad].”
Sydney Thunder Assistant Coach Gavan Twining described Litchfield’s selection as a tremendous reward for her hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.
“Phoebe has the talent,” said Twining. “But she is always wanting to learn more; she wants to hit more balls and to find ways to score more runs.
“With that attitude she’ll be one of Australia finest players of the future if she continues on that path.”
Australia will depart for India on 4 December ahead of the first T20I on 9 December.
All five matches will be broadcast live on Fox Cricket via Foxtel and Kayo.
The squad is:
Alyssa Healy (NSW/Sydney CC) – Captain
Tahlia McGrath (SA/Glenelg CC) – Vice-captain
Darcie Brown (SA/Northern Districts CC)
Nicola Carey (TAS/North Hobart CC)
Ashleigh Gardner (NSW/Bankstown CC)
Kim Garth (VIC/Dandenong CC)
Heather Graham (TAS/Clarence CC)
Grace Harris (QLD/Western Suburbs CC)
Jess Jonassen (QLD/Valleys District CC)
Alana King (WA/Midland Guildford CC)
Phoebe Litchfield (NSW/Penrith CC)
Beth Mooney (WA/Sandgate-Redcliffe CC [QLD])
Ellyse Perry (VIC/Dandenong CC)
Megan Schutt (SA/Sturt CC)
Annabel Sutherland (VIC/Prahan CC)
1st T20I: Friday, 9 December, DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12:30am AEDT
2nd T20I: Sunday, 11 December, DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12:30am AEDT
3rd T20I: Wednesday, 14 December, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12:30am AEDT
4th T20I: Saturday, 17 December, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12:30am AEDT
5th T20I: Tuesday, 20 December, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, 7pm local time/12:30am AEDT
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.