After a successful season win Sydney Sixers and Australia A, Burns has earned a spot in the Australian team. ©Getty Images

Erin Burns and Heather Graham have received their maiden call-ups to the national squad for Australia’s limited-overs tour of West Indies beginning on September 5. The pair will replace the duo of Elyse Villani and Sophie Molineux, while Nicole Bolton was reportedly unavailable for selection. The Australian selectors announced a 14-member squad for the three-match ODI and three-match T20I series on Friday (August 23).

Both Graham and Burns were part of the Australia A squad that toured England last month and are set to make their maiden appearances at the international level on the back of strong domestic and pathway performances.

Graham, the 23-year-old batting allrounder, was named the Domestic Player of the Year last season after a wonderful season for Western Australia and Perth Scorchers. In the 2018-19 Women’s National Cricket League she topped the run-charts scoring 294 runs at an average of 49, including one century and three half centuries while also picking up 11 wickets along the way. She followed up that performance with an excellent outing in the Women’s Big Bash League as well. Graham took 22 wickets with her medium pace to finish as the season’s join highest wicket-taker.

On the other hand, Burns’ selection is a story of persistence. At 31 the allrounder has represented as many as three teams on the domestic circuit— starting with New South Wales, moving to Tasmania, turning out for Australian Capital Territory in 2018-19, before earning a contract with NSW for 2019-20.

She enjoyed a fruitful 2018-19 season in the WNCL, taking 10 wickets in six matches with her off-spin, including a best of 5 for 36. However, it was the allrounder’s contribution with the bat in the WBBL that left a lasting impression. Coming in to bat in the lower-middle order behind the likes of Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner and Dane van Niekerk, Burns scored 250 runs at a strike rate of 129.53.

Arguably one of the best fielders in Australia, Burns’ biggest and most memorable contribution in the 2018-19 WBBL will be the incredible diving effort on the boundary that helped Sydney Sixers sneak into the final.

“Heather was named the Domestic Player of the Year last season and was a member of the National Performance Squad as well as Australia’s ‘A’ tour to England, so we know exactly what she is capable of with both bat and ball,” said Shawn Flegler, Austalia’s national selector. “Her skills with the ball will add further depth to the team’s pace bowling stocks while her batting ability could see her play an important role in the middle-order.”

“Erin has also been a standout performer at domestic level and has had to bide her time for a national call-up. A handy middle-order batter, her off-spin will help to fill the void created by the omission of Sophie Molineux.

“These selections reinforce our desire to select players with a view to the T20 World Cup next year who offer versatility, can play a designated role and offer skills in a number of different facets of the game.”

Aside from the omissions of Molineux and Villani, the rest of the squad remains unchanged. Nicola Carey, the only player aside from Villani not to play a single international match on the tour of England, retains her place in the squad, while Tayla Vlaeminck, the exciting fast bowler, has been persisted with.

After a late call-up to the Ashes squad, Molineux made a major impact on her Test debut, taking 4 for 95 with her left-arm spin while also accumulating 62 runs in the match. The selectors chose to leave her out of the touring party in order to provide her with time to rehabilitate the shoulder she injured earlier this year.

On the other hand, Villani, who was unable to break into the XI during Australia’s tour of England, has been given an opportunity to ply her trade in the first round of the WNCL— a chance to ‘redefine’ her batting and present a strong case for selection in the future.

“Elyse unfortunately couldn’t force her way into the playing XI in the recent Ashes series and the selection panel believes the first round of WNCL is an ideal opportunity for her to redefine her batting and present a strong case for selection ahead of a busy summer,” Flegler said.

“Nicole has made herself unavailable for selection and we are working closely with her and the WACA to provide her the support she needs as she continues to manage her health.”

“Sophie will also miss the tour to give her the opportunity to focus on her shoulder rehab after a large workload over the last seven weeks. With a big season ahead including the World Cup its important she gets her body 100 per cent right and this break will hopefully allow her to do that.”

This tour to the Caribbean will be only Australia’s second trip to the islands for a bi-lateral series having previously traveled there for a two-Test series in the 1970s. The squad will depart next week.

 

Squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Heather Graham, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham.

 

Fixtures:

ODIs:

September 5: First ODI, Coolidge Cricket Ground, Antigua
September 8: Second ODI, Sir Viv Richards Ground, Antigua
September 11: Third ODI, Sir Viv Richards Ground, Antigua

T20Is:

September 14: First T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados
September 16: Second T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados
September 18: Third T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados

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