Aussie all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner is as confident as ever as her Southern Stars prepare to tackle the Twenty20 leg of their Multi-Format series against India.
The New South Wales all-rounder was at her measured best in the one-off test match against India in Gold Coast, notching an important 51 when her Aussies were behind the game while bowling economically with her off-spinners.
Usually known as the aggressive batter in Australia’s middle order, Gardner was glad to see hard work pay off with her timely knock.
“It was obviously nice to spend time out in the middle with ‘Pez’ (Ellyse Perry) and play a little bit of a different role from what people have normally seen when I go out into the middle,” Gardner said.to media on the Gold Coast this week.
“That’s the beauty of test cricket, I had so much more time than what I normally do.”
While many of Australia’s four debutants took time to adjust to the test match spotlight, Gardner didn’t miss a beat in holding together the Southern Stars’ middle order. Despite her crucial contributions with both bat and ball, Gardner was still annoyed with her dismissal.
“I was pretty annoyed with how I got out and when I got out considering it was two overs before the new ball,” she said.”
“I know when I first started playing for Australia and even state cricket I was known as the hitter, and the person that came out and took the game on. But there’s more pressure on me now to stay out there and score some more runs.”
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After notching her maiden test half-century, Gardner is optimistic as she casts her eyes towards the Twenty20 leg of the Multi-Format series. With lynchpin Rachael Haynes missing from the side, the right-handed Gardner is eyeing a vaunted spot in the Southern Stars’ top four.
“I know that top four have been flexible in the last 12 to 18 months, we love to utilise the left- and right-hand combos,” Gardner said.
“I’ll bat wherever the team needs me. I’m clear with what my role is in T20 cricket, it does go back to that attacking brand.”
But the New South Welshman was quick to show her excitement at the expected return of fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck from injury. Needing a swing in momentum after India’s recent strong form, Gardner believes Vlaeminck’s raw pace could prove the trick to Australia claiming the series.
“I think Tay is the quickest bowler in the world, and she’s someone we love having in our arsenal,” Gardner said.
“It’s exciting to have her back in the set up and fit and raring to go. She’s been terrorising our batters in the nets. The impact she could have against this Indian side is exciting, having her and Darcie Brown at both ends is a pretty awesome sight.”
Despite gifting the final one-day international and the majority of the drawn test match to India, Gardner is buoyant in Australia proving their mantle as the world’s best women’s side in the final Twenty20 matches. Having beaten the visitors in the most recent Twenty20 World Cup Final, Gardner is hopeful of her Southern Stars repeating the dose in a format they are familiar with.
“Twenty20 is one of our best formats – we’ve won the past two Twenty20 World Cups,” she said.
“It goes to show how good we are at that format. Taking confidence with what we’ve been able to achieve in the past in the T20 format certainly helps going into the rest of the series.”
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