The allrounder withdrew from the Australia tour but is in line to be part of the Victoria-Queensland title showdown
Allrounder Annabel Sutherland, who was ruled out of Australia’s tour of New Zealand with a stress reaction in her thigh, could make a surprise return to action for Victoria in the WNCL final against Queensland.
It had been assumed that Sutherland’s season was over when she withdrew from the national squad, but on Friday she was named in Victoria’s 15-player squad having recently resumed training.
Sutherland’s availability would be a significant boost for Victoria who are without six other Australia players for the title decider.
Victoria captain Elyse Villani would not expand much on Sutherland’s inclusion except to say: “Everyone in the 15 is a chance to play.”
The state made a request to Cricket Australia about delaying the final until after the tour of New Zealand to enable full-strength sides to take part but that was declined. Queensland will be without Beth Mooney and Jess Jonassen.
This is the first WNCL final (or finals series) in the tournament’s history not to have New South Wales taking part. Victoria booked their spot with two games of the group stage remaining while Queensland nervously watched ACT beat South Australia which secured their spot.
“[It was] very nerve wracking, the momentum swayed a number of times throughout that game and we had severely noise at our hotel because we were having many cheers for the ACT girls,” Queensland captain Georgia Redmayne said. “Last year we were on the wrong side of that, waiting for another game, that atmosphere in that when they hit that winning run was really special.”
Victoria are chasing a third title, and their first since 2004-05, while Queensland have never won the competition but have been runner up on five occasions.
Villani shapes as one of the key players in the final, particularly with Victoria missing so many big names, after enjoying a prolific tournament with 593 runs at 98.83 which sees her 37 runs shy of setting a new record for a WNCL campaign. However, she is not putting an extra pressure on herself despite Victoria having lost their last two matches against Western Australia in Perth.
“If you fall into that trap you get yourself into trouble,” she said. “We’ve just to commit to playing a really positive brand of cricket knowing that it may come off some people and may not come off for some but if we all commit to that we are giving ourselves the best opportunity
“I’m just really enjoying my cricket, there’s secret formula. I’m really happy on and off the field, really enjoying myself, loving the company of the girls and feel like I’ve rediscovered my love for the game over the last 18 months.”
Victoria squadMakinley Blows, Lucy Cripps, Sophie Day, Bhavi Devchand, Elly Donald, Nicole Faltum, Tess Flintoff, Kim Garth, Zoe Griffiths, Ella Hayward, Anna Lanning, Courtney Neale, Annabel Sutherland, Elyse Villani (capt), Amy Vine
Queensland squad Meagan Dixon, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris, Mikayla Hinkley, Ellie Johnston, Ruth Johnston, Laura Kimmince, Charli Knott, Lilly Mills, Georgia Prestwidge, Georgia Redmayne (capt), Courtney Sippel, Georgia Voll
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo