Australian and Sydney Sixers allrounder Ashleigh Gardner is set to return to her NSW roots, after being named in the Lendlease Breakers squad for the upcoming 2018/19 season.
Gardner joins an impressive list of 19 cricketers in the squad which features five players from the Australian Women’s Cricket Team, who will be hungry to defend the WNCL crown won by the Breakers for an astounding 19th time earlier this year.
Those players include Gardner, Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Rachael Haynes, and Nicola Carey, who recently made her debut in national colours during the One-Day International tri-series involving hosts, India, and England.
The squad also includes four members of the National Performance Squad – promising fast bowlers Lauren Cheatle and Belinda Vakarewa, Saskia Horley and 17-year-old allrounder Rachel Trenaman – four Shooting Stars and three Australian Under-19 players.
Horley, Trenaman and emerging batter Tahlia Wilson are all Australian representatives at the Under 19 level.
Gardner returns to the Breakers squad after one season with the South Australian Scorpions.
Since she debuted for Australia in a T20 International at the MCG against New Zealand in February 2017, Gardner has played 15 One-Day Internationals and 11 Twenty20 matches for her country including eight matches at the 2017 International Cricket Council Women’s World Cup.
Breakers coach Jo Broadbent said there was real excitement about the return of Gardner to the squad after the strong season she had for Australia.
“Ashleigh (Gardner) came through our NSW pathway and has been a key part of the Breakers squad for a number of years,” Broadbent said.
“It's great to welcome her back in the Breakers’ blue.”
Gardner produced some solid performances throughout the Women’s Ashes Series held during October and November. She took four wickets in the series and scored some handy runs at various spots up and down the batting order including a critical 27 from 18 balls to help steer Australia to victory in the first match.
The off-spinner has already collected 20 wickets for Australia in the One-Day International arena at an average a tick over 30.
Gardner was among the top three leading run-scorers for the Sixers last season behind Perry and Healy respectively.
She scored 347 runs at 26.69 and claimed five wickets in the tournament including a breathtaking century during the Sixers opening match of WBBL|03, where she smashed the Melbourne Stars attack to all parts of North Sydney Oval in an innings of 114 from just 52 balls.
Broadbent said that as the women’s game continues to grow in popularity and the seasons become busier and longer, the upcoming campaign will potentially be one of the longest seasons yet for the Breakers with the Rebel WBBL|04, the ICC Women’s World T20 and the WNCL all scheduled for the 2018/19 season.
“Maintaining a sense of stability and continuity is essential going into such a busy season, particularly after the retirement of captain Alex Blackwell, so we have kept our squad largely unchanged other than the addition of Ashleigh Gardner,” said Broadbent.
“We have a great blend of established leaders of the game with the likes of Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes and young, talented up and coming players like Rachel Trenaman, Belinda Vakarewa and Lauren Cheatle to name just a few.”
“This depth of experience really complements the younger players and we are invested in continuing to develop these players and give them as many opportunities as possible this season as they are the future of NSW and Australian cricket.”
Lendlease Breakers squad for 2018/19:
Sarah Aley (Bowler)
Nicola Carey (All-rounder)*
Lauren Cheatle (Bowler)
Rene Farrell (Bowler)
Ashleigh Gardner (All-rounder)*
Maisy Gibson (Bowler)
Lisa Griffith (All-rounder)
Rachael Haynes (Batter)*
Alyssa Healy (Wicketkeeper and batter)*
Mikayla Hinkley (Batter)
Saskia Horley (All-rounder)
Carly Leeson (Batter)
Ellyse Perry (All-rounder)*
Lauren Smith (Bowler)
Naomi Stalenberg (Batter)
Rachel Trenaman (All-rounder)
Hannah Trethewy (Wicketkeeper)
Belinda Vakarewa (Bowler)
Tahlia Wilson (Batter)
*Australian contracted player.