Australia have a selection crisis, and it’s the best problem to have. In addition to their star-studded batting line up, Nicole Bolton’s recent good knock against Australia A has added to the existing dilemma of choosing their top six for the start of the Ashes.
Bolton was a notable absentee from Australia’s most recent one-day international series against New Zealand in February and March, with the Western Australian taking some time away for personal reasons.
Even without Bolton, who averages 43.93 in ODIs, the Southern Stars had a 3-0 clean sweep the in the series, when Rachael Haynes took Bolton’s opening spot and averaged 43 for the series.
Australia boasts one of the best batting line up in the world which includes Bolton, Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry, Beth Mooney and Elyse Villani in their squad. Now, the comeback of Nicole Bolton will force selectors to make a tough call on their top six batters and will make them scratch their heads to strike a perfect combination.
“It’s a really hard line-up to crack and I know I have to bide my time,” Bolton said to cricket.com.au.
“All I can do is train really hard, put the runs on the board and hopefully keep making sure my fielding is up to scratch.
“It’s a tough line-up to get into at the moment but that’s what you want, you want competition for spots.”
Her return to the opening spot in the first A match saw Haynes shift down the order to No.5, the batting reshuffle leading to Villani dropping out of the side.
While her first innings back with her Australian teammates resulted in a first-ball duck, Bolton bounced back on Wednesday with a superb 72 from 64 deliveries, including eight fours and a six.
Bowling first in the 40-over-a-side match, Australia A openers Georgia Redmayne and Tahlia McGrath made a positive start, before the off-spin of Ashleigh Gardner procured the first wicket with Redmayne stumped on 23.
Jonassen then removed McGrath (34) and Rachel Trenaman (0) in the same over to have Australia A in a spot of bother at 3-69, before handy contributions from Josie Dooley – whose 36 from 37 included three fours and one six – alongside Heather Graham (24) and Erin Burns (25), helped push the Australia A total to 8-192 from 40 overs.
With Australia electing to bat out their full 40 overs to give their line-up precious time in the middle, there were some strong performances such as Ellyse Perry’s 60-ball 52, Elyse Villani’s 45 off 26 and Beth Mooney’s 34 off 31 as Australia reached 5-280 from 40 overs.
“I felt a lot better than the other day,” Bolton said after Wednesday’s game.
“I got a first-baller (on Monday) so I was pretty keen to take the first ball of our innings and get through the first one today. It was really nice to get out there and spend a bit of time in the middle.
“I think I was having an internal battle after the first game; we had optional training on Tuesday and I’d already opted myself out of it, so when I made a first-baller I thought, ‘maybe I do need a hit’.
“But I backed myself in today and I’m just really pleased that different approach (worked), being a bit more positive and relaxed.
“It was nice to get some runs and spent some time out there.”
“There’s some really exciting signs, Heals hasn’t missed a beat, she came out in game one and absolutely smoked them, Meg’s looking in ominous form and Pez continued on today making some runs.
“And we saw at the end Elyse Villani, Ash Gardner and Beth Mooney going nuts so everyone is in a really good space.”
The 14-player Australian squad will fly to the United Kingdom on Saturday and head straight for the university town of Loughborough, where they’ll spend a week adjusting to conditions before moving to nearby Leicester for the first ODI on July 2.
Australia A squad – which is also heading to the UK this weekend for their own tour running concurrently with the Ashes.