Jess Jonassen not feeling 'any extra expectation' with Georgia Wareham and Sophie Molineux absent
Left-arm spinner had missed India series due to injury, but returned to action in WBBL with 21 wickets for Brisbane Heat
Jess Jonassen will play her first international cricket since April when the Ashes begins this week in Adelaide, and shapes as an even more important player than normal in Australia's plans. Her comeback to national colours is at a time when Australia are without two key players in legspinner Georgia Wareham and left-armer Sophie Molineux due to injuries sustained during the WBBL.
"It's sad missing both Soph and Georgia, but I don't really feel any extra expectation or weight on my shoulders," she said. "I've looked at myself as trying to lead this spin group any time I'm part of it. I've been fortunate to play for Australia for a number of years that I try to impart whatever experiences I've had with whoever the other spinners are."
Wareham will be out of action for the best part of a year after injuring her ACL but it is hoped that Molineux, who has a stress fracture of her foot, will be available for the World Cup.
Jonassen, the left-arm spinner who is the top-ranked ODI bowler, missed the multi-format series against India earlier in the season with a stress fracture in her tibia but returned to action in the WBBL with 21 wickets for Brisbane Heat.
"For me missing out from the last series and coming back in, you just want to make an impact regardless but I don't necessarily feel any extra pressure," she said.
And Wareham and Molineux's absence leaves a lot of onus on Jonassen who has played 162 times across for formats for Australia - including three Tests - but she is taking it in her stride. Jonassen will still have Ash Gardner and the uncapped Alana King alongside her in the spin department, with legspinner King preferred ahead of Amanda-Jade Wellington for a spot in the Ashes squad.
"It's a really exciting time for her and I know not only myself but also Ash Gardner being the other member of our spin, it's up to both of us to impart whatever experiences we've had," she said.
"We had our first training session yesterday, and Kingy took to it like a duck to water. She's one of those characters comfortable in her own skin, and we'll always encourage her to make sure she's true to herself and doesn't change anything."
The Australia squad has arrived in Adelaide across the last few days with New South Wales-based players sharing a charter flight with the England squad from Canberra. There will be tight Covid-19 protocols throughout the series, which has been adjusted to allow the teams more time to prepare for the World Cup in New Zealand - a tournament that a player risks missing if they catch Covid late in the Ashes.
However, the England squad has already been hit with a member of support staff testing positive while the team was in Canberra.
"We're all human the same as everyone else. We all have similar concerns and worries," Jonassen said. "For us with the World Cup it adds another element. Everyday people have similar sorts of stresses about whether they can see family or whatnot, but we are really confident as a playing group with all the work that's been put in behind the scenes
"I guess the main thing for us to keep each and every person in our group as well was the wider community as safe and healthy as possible. Whatever that involves us as a playing group and the wider CA group is really committed to doing that."
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo