Prior to last week’s Under-18 Women’s National Championship Kinross’ Phoebe Litchfield was philosophical about her chances of selection in Australia’s under-19 team to tour New Zealand, saying “it’s a long way off but if I can perform at the carnival, who knows?”.
Well, turns out it wasn’t as far off as she thought.
She all but demanded to be picked with a dazzling effort to finish as the tournament’s run-scoring stakes – she knocked up 348 runs at 43.5 with a top score of 103 – and the selectors clearly took note, naming her in the 14-strong squad to cross the Tasman in March.
Any selection in a national side is a massive achievement but bear in mind Litchfield, who’s averaging 41 across her Orange District Cricket Association appearances so far this summer as well, is just 15 years old.
Needless to say, she’s justified her reputation as one of Australia’s next big things.
Litchfield played for the Cricket Australia XI at the national championships but is one of eight NSW-based players named in the squad, with five of those coming from the tournament-winning Metro side.
One of the title-winning NSW Metro stars named is Hayley Silver-Holmes, who is also 15 and became the youngest player to make her debut in the Women’s Big Bash League, doing so with the Sydney Sixers earlier this summer.
“The selectors have chosen a really exciting and talented group of players that I’m really looking forward to working with,” Australian coach Shelley Nitschke enthused.
Hopefully they can benefit from the experience of playing in foreign conditions.Australian coach Shelley Nitschke
“Hopefully they can benefit from the experience of playing in foreign conditions and against an opposition most of them are yet to face.”
Litchfield and her new Australian teammates will face the New Zealand Emerging Players squad in four games from March 12-17, playing three 50-over, one-day games and finishing the tour with a Twenty20 clash.
Nitschke went on to laud the women’s pathway, which has helped produce the likes of Litchfield and in her eyes has fast-tracked young women’s development immeasurably.
““With the additional opportunities young players are now being exposed to, we’re seeing them develop at a much quicker rate, with over half the squad holding WBBL contracts this season and quickly becoming household names,” she said.
“There’s players like Hayley Silver-Holmes … Rachel Trenaman, Josie Dooley, Nicole Faltum and Annabel Sutherland who have stepped up to domestic cricket without a hitch, with plenty of others knocking on the door.
“I think that’s proof that the system is doing its job in developing the next generation of players who are ready to take that next step.”
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