Lively training sessions await Australia as players push for final XI

Meg Lanning's team will ramp up their preparations over the next week ahead of the T20I series

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
There could be some fiercely-contested training sessions among the Australia squad in New Zealand over the coming days as players stake their claims for a spot in the side for the first T20I later this month.
Having now reached the stage where the squad can train during their managed isolation in Christchurch, there will be a number of centre-wicket sessions ahead of the series in lieu of any practice matches - Australia complete their isolation the day before the first T20I in Hamilton.
Coach Matthew Mott has said how tough it will be to select the final XI with Tayla Vlaeminck and Ellyse Perry available again after injury, comments echoed by captain Meg Lanning, while the need for an enlarged squad in the current era means there is no shortage of options including the uncapped seamers Darcie Brown and Hannah Darlington.
It is the competition for bowling slots that could make for some challenging sessions for Australia's batters as the young pace bowlers look to make an impression.
"We've got a couple of centre-wickets coming up where everyone will have a chance to push their case and see what they've got," Lanning said. "They'll certainly be a few spots up for grabs, a little bit will be dictated by conditions and where we are playing. The next 10 days really does give us an opportunity to see some players, see Darcie Brown, Hannah and Tayla, where they are at and how they can fit in and play a role for us."
There is no huge changing of the guard taking place in the Australia squad ahead of a 2021-22 season that includes a visit by India, the Ashes and the 50-over World Cup, before next year's Commonwealth Games and the defense of the T20 World Cup in early 2023, but one eye is being kept on ensuring the group does not stagnate.
The depth available to the selectors has been further highlighted by a record number of centuries in this season's WNCL and Lanning hopes the competition for places pushes those in possession to improve their games.
"I think it shows we are keen to evolve our squad and keep bringing new skillsets in," Lanning said. "We have been successful over the last few years with that squad but it's important that we are able to add some new things. We feel like we are adding different skillsets all the time and that's challenging the players who are in the team to keep getting better.
"I think it's really important as a team that we continue to challenge ourselves by adding new members to the team, especially young players with so much energy and no real fear. If it means the senior players have to take their game to another level then that's only going to be a good thing."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo