Australia news – Lauren Cheatle digs deep and earns Test chance – ‘My body’s been through a lot’

Lauren Cheatle has admitted she thought her chance of playing for Australia again had gone, and that she might even have been one more injury away of giving the game away entirely, after being called up for the Test match on the multi-format tour of India next month.

But in last season’s WBBL she played all 15 games for Sydney Sixers and so far in this campaign is their leading wicket-taker with 19 at 13.68 in 10 matches, while now having the confidence that her body won’t let her down.

“I did think the green and gold was probably behind me, not that I wanted to stop trying,” she said. “I think the game has moved so far ahead and you can see the talent coming through is getting better and better. They’re one of the best teams in world sport, not just cricket, so to be able to be in that 16 is [something] I’m really proud of.

“My body’s been through a lot and I’ve been through that journey but I’m super excited to get that call to head over to India.”

The need for a fourth shoulder operation in late 2021 tested Cheatle’s spirit to go through the rehab process again while the cancer earlier that year, which required a melanoma to be removed, was the scariest problem she had to confront. She has previously spoken about how the wait for confirmation the cancer hadn’t spread was the longest seven days of her life.

“[The] fourth shoulder [reconstruction] was pretty difficult and also the cancer scare. I feel like that came out of nowhere and really readjusted the way I thought about injuries and recovery. That was a really scary point in my career, one I never thought I’d face…it’s one that will never go away.

“The frustration of another shoulder reconstruction after already going through three was pretty major and I kind of felt there was no point doing it again if I was going to re-hurt myself. But we took the time to rehab that properly and made all the right decisions.

“I think professional sport throws many different challenges at you. I feel like my journey has thrown a few more as well…but the people who supported me all through that have been amazing and a major part of why I’m still going.”

Cheatle will only be part of the Test leg of the upcoming tour and whether she makes her debut in the format will depend on the balance of side Australia opt for, and potentially whether she is preferred ahead of Kim Garth or Darcie Brown.

Multi-day cricket is rare in the women’s game and Cheatle’s experience of it amounts to two tour matches, the most recent being for Australia A earlier this year in England when the squad toured concurrently with the Ashes.

“[It’s about] being more patient with the red ball and stacking bigger overs together,” she said. “In [the T20] format you get one or two [overs] here and there and you don’t really get time to consistently put performances together. The batters are obviously coming a lot harder [in T20] and you set up a batter a lot differently and have more time to work around plans.

“It’ll be interesting to shift from T20 cricket to red-ball cricket but I think the basics are the same in any format.

“I really enjoyed those three-day games and love bowling overs. The more I bowl the happier I am so I’d like to think it’s a format I could suit, but it’s also a format I’d love to see come into the women’s game, whether that’s two-day or three-day. I think it’s a format that could really excel in women’s cricket.”

She admitted to being short on details for what the next few weeks will look like in terms of preparation having become overwhelmed by the news of her recall, then having an emotional conversation with her family.

“Through those two calls, I’m not quite sure what was said. They were just really happy, talking through tears, then when they cry, I cry, so an emotional phone call, but happy tears.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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