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Scott Bailey

Aussie women call in Irish bolter for T20s

Kim Garth is poised to become the first cricketer in history to go from playing against Australia to wearing the green and gold after the Irish seamer bolted into the squad to tour India.

Just months out from February's World Cup, Garth has become an all-time surprise selection after she was named in the 15-woman Twenty20 squad on Tuesday.

The call-up leaves her as a genuine option for Australia's T20 title defence in South Africa, with officials liking her new-ball work and variations through the middle.

Garth was one of three new faces in Australia's squad, with Alyssa Healy confirmed as stand-in captain for the five T20s while Meg Lanning remains on personal leave.

Teenage star Phoebe Litchfield has been named for her first tour, while Heather Graham returns after playing her only previous ODI for Australia back in 2019.

Legspinner Amanda-Jade Wellington has been dropped, in a blow to her chances of featuring in the World Cup.

But of all the changes, it is the selection of Garth that is the most surprising.

Five of the right-armer's 51 T20s for Ireland were against Australia, and she was named the country's player of the decade in 2021.

But after debuting as a 14-year-old in 2010 she gave up on international cricket in 2019 when she moved to Australia to try and become a professional.

She is now eligible for selection, after sitting out three years of international cricket and becoming a permanent resident.

"We've had discussions for a number of years about where she is at and her intentions," chief selector Shawn Flegler said.

"It's a great opportunity for her to put a case forward for World Cup selection.

"Her performances in the past few years have been really good.

"She's a new-ball option and got a good change of pace as well. Good in the field. And she can bat as well."

Another point of interest will be how selectors replace Lanning and her former vice-captain Rachael Haynes in the top order.

From a leadership perspective, Tahlia McGrath has been named Healy's deputy with no certainty on Lanning's future

The most likely option remains Ellyse Perry and Annabel Sutherland taking the vacant spots in the XI, after being reserves through the Commonwealth Games.

But Litchfield's selection in the 15-woman squad ahead of Georgia Redmayne and others opens the door for the 19-year-old to force her way in.

Selectors also want to offer her crucial experience of touring India with a multi-format series there next year followed by the ODI World Cup in 2025.

"She looks to have all the attributes of a world-class international player," Flegler said.

"If she gets the chance I am sure she will take it with both hands."

AUSTRALIA: Alyssa Healy (capt), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland.

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