Australia, the current favourites to win the Women’s World Cup, faced a downer that could potentially harm their chances to win the trophy after Tayla Vlaeminck was ruled out on the eve of the competition due to a stress fracture on her foot. Victorian spinner Molly Strano was rushed to the squad on Thursday as a replacement for Vlaeminck.
The injury could have severe implications for Australia, who are going to be facing India in what is to be the biggest Women’s World Cup tournament in the history of the game. They will open their campaign against India in a game that has an unprecedented interest, resulting in a packed Sydney Showground stadium.
18-year old Annabel Sutherland is Australia’s potential first-choice to replace Vlaeminck after she gave an impressive performance in her debut in the tri-series against England and India earlier this month. She is regarded as the quickest bowler in the squad with Ellyse Perry and could be a great all-rounder in the tournament.
Australian captain Meg Lanning said, “That is the bonus of the tri-series, we got to plan Annabel in a few of those games. She looked pretty comfortable at that level with both bat and ball. She could potentially play a role for us.”
“We haven’t settled on a line up yet but it could potentially bring in another pace bowler for us. If Annabel was to play a little bit more of a role with the ball, I would certainly be very comfortable with that.”
Molly Strano could also be an option for the playing XI. Spinner Jess Jonassen, turning all-rounders Erin Burns and Sophie Molineux, and Georgia Wareham are also expected to play important roles.
When talking about Strano, Lanning said,
“She’s definitely in contention to play tomorrow, as everyone is. She does have a good record against Verma. It’s something we will be thinking about. We will just have to have a good look at the wicket and decide what we think will be the best combination, and a lot of that will be down to match-ups.”
Vlaeminck’s injury has been a real blow for Australia, as is evident in Lanning’s words.
“There’s no real like-for-like replacement for Tay, no one does what she does. It’s a massive loss and she is obviously pretty shattered with the timing of it. She was set for a big role for us. I’m pretty devastated for her.”