Rolton named as Australian women's captain
Karen Rolton takes over as captain of the Australian women's cricket team - which includes two uncapped players - with her first assignment being a series against India later this month.
Creagh O'Connor, Cricket Australia's chairman, announced Rolton as the best candidate for the captaincy. "We congratulate Karen on becoming Australia's women's cricket captain. It is a tremendous honour for Karen and recognition of her position in the game, as well as the respect and leadership she holds among her peers," he said. "As we continue to try and attract more players to the game, Karen will play a key role in this alongside her male counterpart Ricky Ponting as our role models and leaders in cricket. We wish her every success and welcome her to one of the highest positions in Australian cricket."
Rolton, 31, has been Australian vice-captain since 1997. Making her debut in the 1994-95 season, she has become the third highest one-day international run-scorer in women's cricket, with 3624 at 56.62. She has also taken 77 one-day wickets - seventh on the list of all-time wicket-takers - and with three one-day matches against India coming up, Rolton is on course to become one of a handful of players to take 100 one-day wickets. In Test cricket, Rolton is 50 runs shy of taking the mantle of Australia's leading run-scorer, with a record highest score of 209.
Rolton - tipped as a favourite for Women's International Cricketer of the Year at tonight's Allan Border Medal awards presentation - said she was humbled by the news. "This is something I have always dreamed of, and I am honoured to be given the chance to lead women's cricket in Australia," she said. "There are a number of people that I would like to thank, including my family, my friends, my team-mates and all who have played a role in my cricket career over the years. It's a great challenge and I will do everything I can to help lift and drive the game in Australia."
Included in the 13-player side are two uncapped players - Sarah Andrews, the 24-year-old New South Wales fast bowler, and Jodie Purves, the 21-year-old Queensland wicketkeeper. Melissa Bulow, the Queensland captain, and Michelle Goszko, the NSW batter, make a return to the national side for the first time since 2003. Lisa Sthalekar, the NSW allrounder, was named vice-captain.
Margaret Jennings, the former Australian captain now serving as national chairperson of selectors, said the incoming players deserved their chance at the national level. "Jodie Purves is one player who has come through the system," she said. "She was the wicket-keeper for the Australian youth team and has worked hard in Queensland where she has taken over the `keeping duties. Michelle Goszko and Melissa Bulow come back into the side after good seasons at state level. With the retirements of Belinda Clark and Lisa Keightley, we need to replace the opening partnership and really develop our batting stocks, and these players have been included for that reason."
Australian Women's Squad: Karen Rolton (capt), Lisa Sthalekar (vice-capt), Sarah Andrews, Alex Blackwell, Kate Blackwell, Melissa Bulow, Cathryn Fitzpatrick, Michelle Goszko, Julie Hayes, Shelley Nitschke, Kirsten Pike, Jodie Purves(w/k), Clea Smith.