Molineux to miss ODI World Cup as Wellington is recalled
Molineux's foot injury hasn't healed in time as Australia pick two legspinners in 15-strong squad
Australia allrounder Sophie Molineux has been ruled out of the upcoming Women's ODI World Cup in New Zealand due to a foot injury. It paves the way for Amanda-Jade Wellington to be included in the 15-strong squad after missing out on Ashes selection.
Molineux suffered a stress fracture in her foot during the WBBL late last year but it was hoped she would be fit for the World Cup. However, Australia selector Shawn Flegler confirmed she would not be available until late in the tournament and coupled with the 10 days quarantine on arrival it was too much of a risk. Australia have called in Wellington as a second legspinner alongside Alana King.
"Sophie Molineux, unfortunately, misses out due to injury," Flegler said. "She was unlikely to be available until the backend of the tournament and with limited match time and having to complete ten days managed isolation, it was a tough call, but we weren't prepared to take the risk.
"She tried her best to get up. We left it until the last possible moment.
"Amanda-Jade provides us with another quality spin option and has the potential to play an important role spinning the ball away from the bat. Leg-spin has been a big part of our success in recent years and while Alana King is currently doing that role for us, there's no reason we couldn't play both in the same team if conditions and match-ups suit."
Tayla Vlaeminck and Georgia Wareham had already been ruled out due to their respective long-term injuries. The loss of Vlaeminck last week forced Australia's heirarchy to get creative with her replacement.
"We've had to adapt our thinking a little bit in terms of the make-up of the team and the make-up of the squad," Flegler said. "Tay is obviously very unique in the way she bowls. There's not a like for like replacement really for her so we've changed our thinking a little bit."
Wellington returns after the disappointment of being overlooked for the Ashes with King claiming the spot as the sole legspinner. Wellington hasn't played an ODI for Australia since 2018 but Flegler said she was never far from a return.
"She's always been in our thinking and she's a fantastic bowler," Flegler said. "That's why we picked her in the first place a few years ago, and she's continued to perform. She's in the squad now. Doesn't mean she's in the team now but she's got a chance if something does happen. Again, if conditions suit and match-ups suit, then we'll look to play her."
Queenslander Grace Harris has been included as the extra batter who can bowl some off-spin after being a late addition to the Ashes squad. Harris hasn't played an ODI since 2016 but has forced her way into the squad after excellent domestic form.
"It's a good story for Grace," Flegler said. "She's continued to perform well domestic cricket. I think if you ask around the country, who do you not want to bowl to, Grace's name is right up the top of the list. She's a hard-hitting batter at any position in the top to middle-order. She bowls off-spin as well. We thought with the conditions in New Zealand, particularly the longer tournament, if wickets start to turn Grace comes into her own with off-spinning options as well."
Hannah Darlington and Georgia Redmayne will travel with the 15 to New Zealand as reserve players. Stella Campbell, who has been added to the Ashes squad after Vlaeminck's injury, hasn't been included in the final 15. But Campbell, Elyse Villani, Maitlan Brown, Molly Strano and Heather Graham will all be with the Ashes squad on standby for the final two ODIs of the Ashes series in Melbourne in case of injury or Covid issues.
Australia squad: Darcie Brown, Nic Carey, Ash Gardner, Grace Harris, Rachael Haynes (vc), Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Meg Lanning (capt), Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo