Tayla Vlaeminck's raw pace set to be unleashed in women's Ashes

Tayla Vlaeminck bowling for Melbourne Renegades Getty Images

Australia are hoping 20-year-old quick Tayla Vlaeminck will be their wildcard in the women's Ashes series next month.

Vlaeminck has only played one T20I and one ODI in her brief career thus far but after recovering from a partially torn ACL, which she suffered during the WBBL season, she has been included in Australia's 14-player squad that will head to England in late June.

Australia captain Meg Lanning believes Vlaeminck's raw pace can have a significant impact on the series.

"It's nice to have someone with a little bit extra pace in the squad," Lanning said. "It gives us a little bit of extra variety. It's great to have her back.

"She's definitely up there with Katherine Brunt, (Shamilia) Connell from the West Indies, they're probably the quicker ones on the international scene and I think Tayla is around the mark with those. I think that's exciting for women's cricket. Hopefully we can see a few more coming through the ranks as well. I think that is sort of changing the game a little bit."

Vlaeminck's pace is another level up from anything else in the Australia squad. She turned heads during the recent training camp in Brisbane and has previously broken bats at Southern Stars training sessions. But the Victorian has already suffered a multitude of serious injuries in her short career, enduring two knee reconstructions and a dislocated shoulder in the last four years. During the off season she embarked on a deliberate rehab programme and made some tweaks to her run-up to prepare for this tour.

"We kind of just had a bit of a cycle going where I'd try and get a bit stronger but there wasn't ever a really long period where I could do that," Vlaeminck said. "Taking the three-four months during that off season and not really having a break and just working as hard as I could in the gym has really set me up. That extra bit of strength will hopefully be able to hold my body up and hopefully I'll be good for a good year.

"I feel like if anything I'm probably bowling quicker than I was before I got injured. I haven't been clocked (with a speed gun), hopefully I can get a bit quicker before the start of the series.

"The extra work in the gym has probably helped with that and hopefully I can continue that and get a bit quicker."

Vlaeminck and Megan Schutt are the only specialist pace bowlers in the squad along with three seam-bowling allrounders in Ellyse Perry, Delissa Kimmince and Nicola Carey.

Lanning said seam bowling could be particularly important in the sole Test match, albeit it will be played on a spin-friendly surface in Taunton with a red Kookaburra ball. Australia's pace attack of Perry, Schutt and Sarah Coyte took 19 of the 20 wickets in Australia's Test victory at Canterbury on the 2015 Ashes tour.

"You need to take 20 wickets in the Test match so that's obviously the thing we're going to be looking at, and you need to have variety in your attack as well so that's obviously the key for us heading into the Test match," Lanning said.

"We'll look at what the conditions are and the wicket we're playing on and choose our best attack accordingly. (In the 2017-18 Ashes) at North Sydney it was difficult to get wickets, so that's obviously at the forefront of our mind."

One challenge for Vlaeminck and the other fast bowlers is the lack of experience in long-form cricket. Perry bowled 35 overs in the drawn Test in Australia in 2017 on top of scoring 213 not out from 374 balls on the flat wicket at North Sydney Oval, with pink Kookaburra balls in use. Schutt delivered 37 overs in only the third Test match of her career.

Vlaeminck has never played long-form cricket, which will test her already fragile body if she is selected.

"It's something I'm not really used to," Vlaeminck said. "We obviously don't play a lot of Test cricket or bowl a lot more than 10 overs. Hopefully it's something I can continue to work on.

"I've got a bit time to try and get my loads up a little bit and just keep bowling, and the dream of playing a Test is something I'm really excited about."