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News

Emotional Wellington marks 'pretty special' Australia comeback with tribute to idol Warne

She has been out of the national frame after a bright international debut, and is gung-ho about making the latest chance count

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
09-Mar-2022
Amanda-Jade Wellington finished with 1 for 25 on her comeback, Australia vs Pakistan, Women's World Cup 2022, Mount Maunganui, March 8, 2022

Amanda-Jade Wellington picked up 1 for 25 on her comeback  •  ICC via Getty Images

A ripping legbreak to Tammy Beaumont in the 2017 Ashes made Amanda-Jade Wellington an instant cricketing sensation.
It was the final day of the first day-night Test in the women's game and Wellington, then 20, hit the top of Beaumont's off stump with a delivery that drew comparisons with Shane Warne's Ball of The Century.
Nearly five years later, after playing only her first match for Australia since March 2018 - during the World Cup match against Pakistan on Tuesday - Wellington found herself jogging her memory back to the time her path last crossed with Warne's, as she reflected on his sudden passing.
"Back in the Hundred [last year], he came out to watch a practice match, which was really special to me," Wellington said after Australia's seven-wicket victory in Mount Maunganui. "To actually get Warnie to witness me bowling was quite special. Every time I think of him now, I just quite tear up. It's quite emotional, because I look up to him so much.
"I didn't get to work with him. I wish I did. But it [his impact on me] was just more so [through] watching his highlights, watching him bowl. Every spinner looks up to him and he's someone you want to be, so I think he had a real contribution to every spinner's game and especially my game as well."
Wellington had documented her emotions after Warne's death in the form of a video she posted on her YouTube channel just hours after Warne's death.
"I still remember the first time I got compared to Shane Warne," she said. "It was Big Bash 01. I think I was bowling against Perth Scorchers and ended up getting a three-fer. And then [commentator] Adam Gilchrist compared me to Shane Warne while the men were playing. He said, 'This is Shane Warne finesse' as well. He just said it reminded him of Shane Warne."
"Obviously, it's been three years since I've put on the Australian jersey before. Just a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement."
Wellington on her comeback to the national side
Wellington relived the disbelief that took over her when her 2017 Ashes stunner to Beaumont became part of cricketing lore.
"I still remember growing up watching him [Warne], watching his highlights clips… Even to this day, I still watch his highlights on YouTube," she said. "And then in the 2017 Ashes for the women, bowling that ball that gets compared to his ball of the century is... And then to get voted the No. 1 Ashes memory as well - like, it's bizarre, it's honestly bizarre."
Wellington had remained on the fringes of the national team since 2018, and when she returned to the XI, a second wristspinner - Alana King - was in it, and both legspinners impressed in something of a timely tribute to Warne.
"To play two legspinners in a game is quite special," she said. "For me and King to be so different, it works out really well from both ends, working in great partnerships. It was so different; we could be so attacking. Hopefully, it comes again."
Following a bright start to her international career - she took a wicket with her first ball in Australia colours, in November 2016 - Wellington's performances went down, and the emergence of Georgia Wareham then saw her drop down in Australia's legspinning pecking order.
More recently, despite a breakout season at the Hundred and a memorable campaign with Adelaide Strikers at the WBBL, including a record 5 for 8 in the Eliminator, she was pipped by King to a spot in the Ashes squad. But Wellington stayed in the selectors' scheme of things.
That meant when a foot injury ruled left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux out of the 2022 ODI World Cup, Wellington was handed a second shot at representing Australia.
"I got a phone call, and the night before [the game] from [head coach] Matthew Mott, the bearer of good news, which was nice," Wellington said. "Luckily, I am a room-mate with Tahlia McGrath. She had heard the good news, so was so excited for me. [I] quickly rang mum and dad. They were so excited. I think they watched the whole game as well with my partner. So, just emotions falling through the body… and yeah, just a lot of nerves."
Wellington came into the attack in the 13th over of the match against Pakistan, and it only took Wellington five balls to make an impact. With a deftly flighted delivery, she drew No. 6 Nida Dar, a former WBBL opponent, forward and had her edge to first-slip Meg Lanning for her 16th ODI wicket. Bowling across two spells of four overs each, Wellington finished with 1 for 25.
"I sort of felt at home once again," she said. "Getting on the field, nerves went away, and then as soon Meg gave me the ball, the nerves came back. And then once I got through the first over, I think I was pretty good," she said. "It was pretty special. It's funny - before the game, I had a lot of nerves coming to the ground. Obviously, it's been three years since I've put on the Australian jersey before. Just a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement, and [I'm] just really excited to be part of the team once again."

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha