Molly Strano Stella Campbell Australian women's cricket team

Molly Strano celebrates with debutant Stella Campbell after combining for a wicket in Game 3 of the One-Day International series against India. (Photo: Cricket Australia)

Off-spinner Molly Strano has praised the development of Australia's emerging young bowlers heading into the next stages of the tri-series against India.

Australian cricketer Molly Strano has heaped plenty of praise on Australia’s bowling stocks and believes the team’s form throughout the recent One-Day Internationals will continue into the one-off Test against India.

Despite a two-wicket loss to India in Game 3 of the One-Day International part of the Multi-format series- which broke Australia’s 26-game ODI win streak -, the national side is looking ahead to the next stage of the fixture – a one-off Test match at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast.

Australian off-spinner Molly Strano, who is within the squad based in Queensland, says that there’s copious amounts of good things to come out of the ODIs that will carry into the Test which gets underway this afternoon.

“I don’t think the [Game 3] loss is going to affect us too much,” Strano told The Inner Sanctum.

“I think the three ODIs, especially the last two were such hard-fought encounters and such tight tussles that it gives both teams a really good lead-in for the Test match, to play two really battle-hardened games leading into a longer-format game.

“I think both teams will be really excited and really happy with where their squad is at and how their squad is performing. It just leads [towards] a really exciting contest which is going to be an Australian team and an Indian team who are both in pretty good nick coming up against each other.”

It’s a format of the game that the Australian women’s team hasn’t been afforded many opportunities to play throughout the last two years, their last Test match a one-off Ashes fixture against England in July 2019 – the result, a draw.

The last time they came up against India in a Test match dates back to February 2006 for a one-off match in Adelaide which the Aussies won by an innings and four runs.

The Victorian says that the opportunity to play a format that many in the team haven’t been provided a chance to play much previously has its benefits, reinforcing the notion that the team is excited, especially as the game will be played as a day/night contest.

“The girls are super pumped, everyone had a spring in their step yesterday because we got the white pads out and we had the pink balls flying around, we trained under lights and it was just a different feel,” she commented.

“I think everyone’s just really pumped. It’s a format that we don’t play very often so when it does come around it’s like Christmas and everyone’s super excited and excited I guess to test their skills in a different fashion, in regards to playing a longer form of the game.

“The sense around the group at the moment is a huge amount of excitement and as I said…, everyone’s pumped to get out there and don the whites which is something that we don’t get the privilege to do very often.”

The occasion also marks the first Test match that will be played at Metricon Stadium, the Aussies looking forward to being part of that history. The team was able to train on the ground and get a look at the pitch at training on Tuesday, helping better their preparations and adding to their excitement.

“We’re super excited to be able to play in the first Test encounter at Metricon and also the other layer of it being a day/night Test as well also adds to the excitement of the encounter,” Strano said.

“Around the group and around the squad, there’s just nothing but excitement and probably a pinch of nerves as well, playing a format that’s quite foreign to us as well so it’s a really exciting time for the squad.”

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Having come into the team as an injury replacement player for an injured Jess Jonassen, Strano says she felt a series of varying emotions. However, as with any national team experience she’s selected for, it gives her a greater chance to expand her skillset while also remaining within the frame of selection at the top level.

“From being devastated from not getting selected to again, it’s that bittersweet moment of feeling for a teammate that’s gone down but also getting the opportunity to join up with the squad. It was, again, a bit of a whirlwind of an experience,” Strano said.

“It’s been awesome to be up here, I love linking up with this squad, it’s a lot of fun and it’s good to reunite with some teammates which I haven’t seen for a while just based on the way life is now.”

The prospect of joining the Australian camp and contributing to the team in every sense from training and game-day to off-field endeavours too is something Strano takes in stride. She lauded the amount of focused training she receives by being within the same group as many prolific, world-class cricketers and coaches.

“Australian training is the best form of training you can get,” Strano remarked.

“Bowling to the likes of Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry each session is the ultimate test so even though I haven’t played, it’s been really nice to hone in on my skills and test myself against some of the best batters in the country, if not the world at training.”

As well as the more experienced members of the Australian setup, 28-year-old Strano has heralded the younger players making their way through the ranks of domestic cricket to the national team.

Strano says she is impressed by the likes of 19-year-olds Stella Campbell and Hannah Darlington and 18-year-old Darcie Brown, highlighting these three as the future of Australian cricket, such is the impact they’ve already shown.

“I was really proud of the girls and I’ve only most recently met Darcie Brown and Stella Campbell. They’re just beautiful young kids and it was so great to see them go out on the big stage and be able to strut their stuff and perform really well,” she said.

“The Australian domestic circuit is so strong and those girls have already played a handful of games against some of the best players not only in Australia but worldwide in the WBBL. Even though they don’t have international experience, they already have some really good cricketing experiences by playing in the domestic circuit, whether that be the WBBL or the WNCL.

“It’s no surprise to me that these younger players can come in and fit in so seamlessly and perform at a really high level because it’s [a] testament to our domestic structure and our underpinning domestic structure that we’re developing and providing these girls with some really good contests before getting onto the international stage where they’re able to perform.”

The depth of talent that has been identified as a result of the recent ODIs and the upcoming Test selections has Strano excited for the future of Australian cricket but is wary too. She says seeing the teenagers make their way into the squad puts pressure on her and therefore forces her to explore a shift in her own approach to training and preparation, to maintain a spot on the team.

Fast bowlers Tayla Vlaeminck, along with Brown and Campbell, off-spinners Sophie Molineux and Jonassen, and leg-spinners Georgia Wareham and Amanda-Jade Wellington are all players who Strano pointed out to explain how much of a good situation Australia is in within the bowling department.

“The bowling stocks in Australia at the moment are so incredibly deep across all different departments,” she stated.

“I know I have to keep evolving my game if I want to sort of stay around this environment and be involved. If you’re not looking for ways to evolve your game and your craft then the game can catch up to you pretty quickly and people can find you out.”

Strano though, who started out her career as a batter, brought up that it also wasn’t just the bowlers who will take Australia into what she deems a “golden era”, drawing attention to the effects of the domestic circuit.

“Even the rise of some really good young batters as well that are putting pressure on the batters that are in the Australian squad at the minute so it’s a real golden era I reckon, at the moment,” she said.

“[There’s] some hugely talented players across all different states and all different Big Bash teams, which is probably making the Australian domestic circuit one of the strongest circuits in world cricket.”

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