Australia news – Shelly Nitschke praises Jess Jonassen’s WPL response to axing

Leaving Jess Jonassen out of Australia’s squad to tour Bangladesh was the toughest selection call head coach Shelley Nitschke had been a part of, but the allrounder’s subsequent success at the WPL has been exactly the type of response she expected.

Jonassen’s omission for the upcoming tour was the first time she had been left out of a squad when fit since her debut in 2012. It came at the end of a season where she lost her place across formats and puts her in doubt for the T20 World Cup in October which will be staged in Bangladesh.

“It was a tough decision and she was very disappointed. To see how she’s responded in the WPL, to me it’s no surprise she’s done that,” Nitschke told ESPNcricinfo. “She’s a real fighter. Certainly not surprised with how she’s going about that and making a statement which is exactly what we like to see.

“It’s really tough to leave out a player like JJ who has been around for a long time. She has been a great servant for us. But she’s certainly not out of the mix. She’s showing exactly what she is capable of over in the WPL which has been fantastic to watch.”

Australia’s spin options for the Bangladesh tour are Gardner, Georgia Wareham, Alana King and Sophie Molineux. King has not featured in T20Is since the last World Cup in South Africa so there may be one spin-bowling spot up for grabs depending on the balance of the final 15 later this year.

“We’ve got a few things to look at and make decisions on, there’s a little bit of time to go between now and then,” Nitschke said.

The Bangladesh tour, Australia’s first bilateral series against them, offers a valuable pre-World Cup scouting mission of conditions in Mirpur particularly when it comes to the three T20Is. Nitschke said there is a chance the team will try a few different combinations in those matches to ensure they have covered as many bases as possible.

“We want to win every game we play,” Nitschke said, “but there’s an element that we are coming back to Bangladesh in six months for a World Cup so we need to get as much information from the conditions and about our team as well and how we play those conditions so when we get back over there for the World Cup we are really clear on what it looks like for us.

“We probably need to use that opportunity to find a few things out. There could be some things we look at that aren’t Plan A. We aren’t going to turn the order upside down but feel like there could be a few things in there where we need to provide opportunities.”

However, they won’t be taking Bangladesh lightly. At the 2022 ODI World Cup, Australia were 41 for 4 chasing 136 with Salma Khatun threatening a huge upset before Mooney got them over the line. This year Bangladesh have beaten India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa to mark themselves down as a rapidly developing team.

“We are going in knowing they’ll be a real good challenge,” Nitschke said. “We certainly know they are going to present some different sorts of challenges for us in conditions they are familiar with. We’ll have to adapt to the wickets and the way they play.”

The tour caps a busy season for Australia who faced West Indies and South Africa at home with a visit to India in the middle. Several players have also gone to the WPL and will travel straight to Bangladesh.

“It’s the end of what’s been a long season. That will be our challenge, and at some point, people will have to dig a little bit deeper,” Nitschke said. “They’ll have to help out their mates as well. If we can do that it puts us in really good stead for the future, to find something else when you feel like you are on empty.”

Australia fly out to Bangladesh on Saturday with the ODIs taking place on March 21, 24 and 27 followed by the T20Is on March 31, April 2 and April 4.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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