Australia’s pace bowling spearhead ruled out of tournament with stress fracture in foot as Molly Strano joins squad just 24 hours before opening match against India
Tayla Vlaeminck’s T20 World Cup dream is officially over, with the Australian fast bowler ruled out of the tournament with stress fractures in her foot.
Australia have drafted in off-spinner Molly Strano as her replacement, with the Victorian arriving in Sydney ahead of the squad’s final training session at the Sydney Showgrounds Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
Vlaeminck was spotted at an event in Sydney on Wednesday wearing a ‘moon boot’ on her right foot, having missed her team’s final warm-up match against South Africa the previous day, and Australia’s worst fears have since been confirmed.
Vlaeminck’s absence is an enormous blow for the defending champions after her strong form in the lead-up to the event, with the 21-year-old Victorian’s sheer pace seen as a major weapon.
With no like-for-like replacement Australian domestic ranks – there are few female quicks in the world able to manage those speeds – national selectors have instead turned to the spin of Strano.
Head coach Matthew Mott said the entire Australian squad was disappointed to lose Vlaeminck so close to the tournament, but was confident Strano would make a strong contribution to the group.
“Tayla has been in brilliant form of late and established herself as one of the premier fast bowlers in international cricket,” Mott said.
“No one ever wants to see a player miss a major tournament in these kinds of circumstances, but I have no doubt she will bounce back from this setback and play a leading role in Australian squads for many years to come.
“We are fortunate to have great depth across Australian cricket and Molly enters the squad in great form having recently been named the domestic player of the year.”
Strano last played for Australia during the 2017 Ashes but has been a consistent performer on the domestic stage for years and holds the record for best T20I figures by any Australian, having taken 5-10 against New Zealand in early 2017.
The leading wicket taker in the Rebel WBBL earlier this summer, Strano was acknowledged as the Domestic Player of the Year at the Australian Cricket Awards earlier this month.
She collected 24 scalps at 16.9 for the Melbourne Renegades in WBBL|05.
Strano then carried that form into the Australia A v India A series in Queensland in December, taking five wickets at 6.6 across three 20-over matches, and bowling with an economy rate of 3.3.
Across six limited-overs matches in total she picked up the wicket of India opener Shafali Verma on four occasions.
Right-armer Vlaeminck had been tipped to be the breakout star of the World Cup following her performances in the CommBank T20I tri-series, where she bowled with serious heat in the three matches she played, causing problems for the star-studded top-orders of England and India.
Her speed was seen as particularly crucial for the opening game against India – Vlaeminck hurried India’s batters when unleashed at Canberra’s Manuka Oval earlier this month, unsettling their top order and collecting a career-best 3-13.
The injury is another cruel setback for the talented Victorian who has endured a torrid run of injuries in her short career to date.
In the space of four years leading into 2018, she underwent two knee reconstructions and recovered from a dislocated shoulder, all before making her international debut.
She had recovered from an ACL strain – her second in as many years – to take her place in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad last month.