Mack, Sutcliffe and Osborne ready for red ball Australia A challenge

Two of the ACT Meteors best will be among two squads-worth of Australian female cricket talent in Adelaide next week, playing in a three-day red ball as part of the Women’s Australia A program.

Katie Mack was early last month named in the Gold Squad, to be mentored by ACT Meteors Head Coach, Erin Osborne, while Gabby Sutcliffe was added to the squad last week after the withdrawal of young Victorian quick, Milly Illingworth.

The Australian A setup is designed to not only reward strong domestic performances but is also used as a platform to prepare domestic players for the potential transition into international cricket. With an array of talent and internationally experienced names in the squad, three days of intense cricket is expected at Karen Rolton Oval from 5–7 March.

While most CA contracted players will be overseas at the India Premier League, those remaining in Australia – Heather Graham, Kim Garth, Alana King and Darcie Brown – will also take part.

Due to the format limitations of the WNCL, Mack and Sutcliffe have had limited opportunity to play much red-ball cricket and are keen to further develop their skills and strategies surrounding the longer format of the game.

“This is a new experience, new tactics in games; so it will be really cool to learn all about that,” Sutcliffe said.

“I’ve played with a red ball before, but I’ve not played much red-ball cricket.”

As a fast bowler, Sutcliffe emphasised the difference of bowling longer spells and being able to back up the next day in red-ball cricket as opposed to white-ball.

“In the club cricket we've been playing the last couple weeks, I’ve sort of been thinking, I just have to do this innings times two. It will be a test of my fitness and definitely a mental test, and also a lot of recovery.”

When asked if she had all the right equipment, Sutcliffe didn’t even own a pair of white pads, as a result of only ever needing coloured pads for white-ball cricket.

“I went to my sponsor the other day asking if he had white pads and he definitely wasn’t expecting it because they don’t have any stock now at the end of the season,” Sutcliffe joked.

Gabby Sutcliffe in action for the ACT Meteors. Courtesy Getty Images.

Mack, who recorded a career high unbeaten 140 against Victoria this season, has had a bit more experience in red-ball cricket, playing locally in the Cricket ACT two-day men’s grade competition.

“I’ve been lucky that I play men’s cricket here in Canberra for Tuggeranong, so I get to play a bit of red-ball cricket and feel slightly more experienced at it. I think it’s just exciting that they’re putting emphasis on more longer format cricket and giving us that opportunity,” Mack said.

Mack even tossed the idea of two-day cricket being featured at a domestic level to give domestic players the appropriate exposure to red-ball cricket and smoothing the transition from a domestic level into Test Cricket.

“I think two-day cricket is a good place to start, you’re only getting your two innings, but it's definitely setting you up for features that come up in a Test Match, so it’s probably a nice way to start,” Mack said.

“There’s probably a lot of logistics to it, the girls haven’t played red-ball cricket, so it's getting the girls’ bodies and minds ready for that type of cricket...I’d love for us domestically to have longer format cricket.”

After another 350-plus run season from the Meteors skipper, Mack will be looking to finish her season strong heading to Adelaide next week to press for further representative honours, while Sutcliffe who has spent an extended period on the sidelines this season due to injury, will be looking to make the most of her late call-up to get miles into the legs.

Captain's knock from Mack leads the way for Meteors
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 18: Katie Mack of the ACT raises their bat after scoring a century during the WNCL match between Victoria and ACT at CitiPower Centre, on January 18, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/Getty Images)

The ‘Green v Gold’ match at Karen Rolton Oval from 5–7 March will feature 26 players split across two teams captained by Heather Graham and Charli Knott.

Green Squad: Heather Graham (c), Chloe Piparo (vc), Maitlan Brown, Maddy Darke, Amy Edgar, Alana King, Lilly Mills, Kate Peterson, Sophie Reid, Hayley Silver-Holmes, Courtney Sippel, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Voll.

Gold Squad: Charli Knott (c), Nicole Faltum (vc), Emma de Broughe, Darcie Brown, Sophie Day, Tess Flintoff, Kim Garth, Sianna Ginger, Gabby Sutcliffe, Katie Mack, Grace Parsons, Courtney Webb, Amanda-Jade Wellington.

Article by UC Sports Media student Oliver Nguyen

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