• Sally, Ashleigh and Shelley meet the Governor General at Government House in Canberra. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
For the first time, an Australian Indigenous Women's cricket team has been selected to tour India.
By
Natalie Ahmat

Source:
NITV News
9 Mar 2016 - 11:25 AM  UPDATED 9 Mar 2016 - 12:17 PM

The announcement - on International Women's Day - was made at a reception hosted by Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove at Government House in Canberra.

The team will be made up of 14 players selected following their strong performances at the recent National Indigenous Cricket Championships in Alice Springs, combined with good form at club level around the country.

It will be a blend of youth and experience, featuring players who have extensive cricket experience and players who have the potential to eventually go on to play at the state or national level.

Sydney Sixers Women's Big Bash League player Ashleigh Gardner has been named captain of the side – a role that came as a surprise to the rising star.

“Its pretty daunting, to be honest,” she told NITV News.

“I only really got told that I was captain today {Tuesday}, so it’s a massive shock to me, and obviously to represent my country and my mob at home, its just an awesome feeling.”

The India tour adds to Gardner's already busy schedule in 2016.

The 18-year-old has also been selected to play for the Australia Women's Development squad, the Shooting Stars, in a limited overs Tri-series against England and Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.

“That’s going to be a full on tournament, and I come back for a week and go to Hawaii for a holiday, then I come back again and go to India!,” Ashleigh laughed.

“So it is pretty full on, but it’s great as well”.

Gardner will be supported by an experienced vice captain in Sally Moylan, who has played in the Women's National Cricket League for the ACT Meteors.

“Its very exciting, and its very honourable as well,” she told NITV News.

“Cricket is one of my favourite things to do, and not only that, to get the chance to represent my people, and First Nations Australia – I’m really looking forward to it.”

The spin bowler said the chance to play in a cricket loving nation like India was a dream come true.

“Being long slow wickets [in India], I’ve always wanted to have a go over there, and see how much I can turn it.”

“I think, as a group, we’re going to learn so much from it, and come back better and wiser cricketers”

The teams' coach, Shelley Nitschke agrees it will be a positive learning experience for the players.

The ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year and four times Australian Women's Cricketer of the Year, Shelley toured the sub continent three times during her playing career, and rates it as one of the best places she's visited.

"It's such a good experience and so I'm happy to be going back. I'm looking forward to the girls coming over and getting to experience that culture as well.

"I think they'll get a lot out of it. There's some trying conditions both on and off the field, so I think they'll grow as players as well as people.

"It can be quite tough, but it certainly makes you a better player and some of the conditions that you have to deal with give you plenty of experience, and plenty of good times and stories to tell as well."

The squad will tour Delhi and Mumbai between May 20-30, 2016, playing in two 50-over and four T20 matches against Delhi, Mumbai, Payadde Sports Club and Global Cricket Schools women's team, as well as the Cricket Club of India and Bombay Gymkhana men's teams.