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News

Sultana: We see Australia's players as idols, so playing with them is huge

This is Australia women's first bilateral tour of Bangladesh, where the T20 World Cup will take place later in the year

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
20-Mar-2024
Alyssa Healy and Nigar Sultana pose with the ODI trophy  •  BCB

Alyssa Healy and Nigar Sultana pose with the ODI trophy  •  BCB

Bangladesh's cricketers are making full use of staying at the same hotel as the Australians in Dhaka, trapping Alyssa Healy at the toaster and gathering vital information about how one of the best in the world goes about doing her business.
Australia are on site for a limited-overs series comprising three ODIs and three T20Is which kicks off on Thursday and their hosts are absolutely thrilled.
"They are the legends of the game so our players are looking forward to meeting them," Bangladesh captain Nigar Sultana said. "Already our players are going up to them in the breakfast table. This communication is important to grow as a team. Many of our players never played against them. We see them as idols so playing with them is a huge achievement."
This is the Australia women's first bilateral tour to Bangladesh so starting from the players to the fans and media, there's massive interest. Sultana's opposite number Healy said that they will be looking to learn from the Bangladesh players too, specifically about the pitches and conditions they might face on this tour and beyond considering the T20 World Cup will be taking place here later in the year.
"I'm really proud of this group of people, who see it as a greater responsibility to continue to grow the game," Healy said. "That doesn't necessarily mean going over and above but there's always opportunities to intermingle between the sides. To talk about the game as a whole. To gain some useful experience, and not just that's not just on their part.
"That's me asking questions about playing here in Bangladesh and playing against sides that we don't get the opportunity to play against either. I think it goes both ways. The girls are really excited to be here and be a part of this series. Hopefully those conversations will take place. I've already had one conversation today around the toaster at breakfast so excited for many more to take place."
Fatigue is a subject Healy touched on considering some of Australia's players are coming off the back of the recently concluded WPL in India, before which they had been busy with national commitments. "I think there's some differing levels of battery power around our group at the moment," she said. "I think that's part of the modern game. That's exactly what is going to start happening moving forward. Playing right around the world 12 months of the year and managing those expectations are going to be a real challenge.
"Fortunately for us, I feel we've got some great perspective within our group. We have Tayla Vlaeminck back in our in our squad for the first time for a long time. Sophie Molineux is back around the group. There's enough perspective in there that if you're feeling a little bit tired, there are players that are absolutely busting their gut to be here playing for Australia. That's a nice reminder for each and every one of us. The group is really excited to be here and excited to pull on the yellow and play for Australia again, which I think tips it."
Sultana, meanwhile, has pointed out her team's bowling as their strength. She also pointed out the bigger picture of playing against Australia at home. Bangladesh have been quite impressive in the last 12 months, particularly after they ran India close in the two white-ball series. They also beat Pakistan in 2-1 in a T20I series and an ODI series at home, and won two matches in South Africa too.
Both Sultana and Healy welcomed the huge media presence at the pre-match press conference. "When we were playing against India," Sultana said, "the journalists' questions were very different. Whether we can win or not, you asked. I think it is a huge success for my team that you aren't asking me these questions. The questions this time are about winning and doing better. I think it is a kind of a success.
"We really want to do well against Australia. They are a big side. They get facilities that are equal to their men's team. We are still a way from that, but the BCB is trying. They got us a team sponsor this time. There's a lot of media attention this time, which wasn't the case before. The word will spread more about women's cricket. When girls will know that they have a professional future in this sport, they will be more interested to play cricket."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84