Opening batter Phoebe Litchfield has been included in Australia’s squad for the multi-format Women’s Ashes in England later this year alongside Kim Garth while fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck is part of the Australia A group that will tour concurrently.Litchfield, 19, could be in line for a Test debut following the retirement of Rachael Haynes when the Ashes gets underway with a five-day encounter at Trent Bridge from June 22. She will be an option to open the batting depending on where Australia want to use Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy.
Litchfield made her international debut against India in December during the T20I series before impressing in her first appearance at ODI level against Pakistan in January with 154 runs in the three-match series.
Garth, the former Ireland allrounder who also made her first appearance for Australia in December, could also push for a Test debut as one of the pace options in a bowling attack that does not lack for options.
Grace Harris is the other player in the squad uncapped at Test level although she is likely to be more in the plans for the ODIs and T20Is which make up the multi-format Ashes.Australia have held the Ashes since 2015 and won by a convincing 12 points to four margin in 2021-22 although the Test produced a gripping contest where England nearly chased down a final-day target before hanging on nine wickets down.”Following the success of the side at the recent T20 World Cup, the focus now turns to the exciting challenge of retaining the Ashes away from home,” national selector Shawn Flegler said. “We’ve been fortunate to have a consistent side across all formats over the past couple of years and as a result we have selected a similar group to the squad which won the T20 World Cup in February.
“Phoebe Litchfield has taken her game to the next level in the past 12 months, we view her as a long-term player for Australia and it’s pleasing to reward her progress with selection in an Ashes squad.”
The inclusion of Vlaeminck in the Australia A squad is significant with her having not played since early 2022 when she suffered another stress fracture of her foot during that season’s Ashes.
“Tayla Vlaeminck is progressing in her rehabilitation and is working back towards full bowling fitness,” Flegler said. “She is a highly regarded talent and is certainly part of our plans moving forward.”
With the Australia A tour overlapping the first part of the Ashes, there is a chance for players to cross over if form or injuries require reinforcements with the main group. The A tour will include three T20s and three one-day games between June 21 and July 2.
“It’s hugely beneficial to have an Australia A component to the tour and provide an opportunity for our developing players to test themselves in conditions they may not experience in Australia,” Flegler said.
“The nature of concurrent tours also offers flexibility and allows players to be available for and cross over into both squads, whether it be from a preparation perspective or to provide an opportunity at international level.
From the A squad, left-arm seamer Lauren Cheatle, allrounder Heather Graham and legspinner Amanda-Jade Wellington have been capped at international level alongside Vlaeminck, while seamer Maitlan Brown has come close. Batter Courtney Webb was the WNCL Player of the Season for 2022-23.
Australia Ashes squad: Meg Lanning (capt), Darcie Brown, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham
Australia A squad: Maitlan Brown, Lauren Cheatle, Maddy Darke, Heather Graham, Nicole Faltum, Tess Flintoff, Charli Knott, Kate Peterson, Courtney Sippel, Tayla Vlaeminck, Courtney Webb, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tahlia Wilson