Multi-faceted Wellington finds the fun in Aussie return

Wellington shelves nerves to star in twin spin attack

For a long time, cricket came almost too easily for Amanda-Jade Wellington, the prodigiously talented wrist-spinner with the ripping leg-break.

Wellington made her domestic debut for South Australia in 2012 aged just 15, the youngest person to play for the state.

Her Australian debut came four years later against South Africa in Coffs Harbor, and with her first delivery in international cricket she had star batter Mignon du Preez out stumped.

A year later, Wellington went viral on Test debut with a stunning delivery that bowled England star Tammy Beaumont.

How easy it is.

Wellington channels Warne for Ashes wicket

But that changed in mid-2018, when Wellington was suddenly dropped from the national side in favor of another talented young leggie – Victoria’s Georgia Wareham – to start what would be an almost four-year period outside the Australian squad.

Wellington’s international career was finally re-launched on Tuesday in Australia’s World Cup match against Pakistan, and the difficult lessons the South Australian learned during her time on the outer have her better placed to thrive second time around.

The 24-year-old has previously spoken about the difficulties she faced over the last few years, when the ever-increasing pressure she was placing on herself culminated in the need to temporarily step away from the game in 2020.

These days, Wellington is worrying less about what other people think, and that new mindset yielded significant rewards last summer, culminating in her international return.

A more mature outlook has also brought greater self-awareness, as she reflected on where things went astray during her first taste of top-level cricket.

“Back then, I didn’t realize how hard it is to keep your spot in the Australian squad,” Wellington told cricket.com.au while in quarantine ahead of the World Cup.

“You get there, but the hardest bit is to keep that spot and I probably didn’t know what hard work was until a few years back.

“There’s a saying that I always remember, ‘talent will get you so far, but hard work will get you further’.

“It’s one thing that stands out to me. I knew I had some sort of talent, but the hard work wasn’t there.

Tandem leggies showed they can play together: Lanning

“And there’s that much talent coming through the ranks with women’s cricket… it’s incredible to see the players coming through the ranks, we have young people like Darcie Brown, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham … they keep you on their toes.

“I feel like I’ve matured in the way that I approach cricket and my game.”

The introduction of the WBBL in 2015-16 and the arrival of semi-professional contracts for female state players in late 2017 triggered rapid growth in the depth of Australian women’s cricket.

The competition for spots in the national squad quickly became tougher than ever, and the once noticeable gap that had existed between the elites and the next level rapidly started to close.

That depth, coupled with the fact Wareham barely put a foot wrong while helping Australia win back-to-back T20 World Cup titles and continue a world record unbeaten run in ODIs, made it tougher than ever for Wellington to find her way back.

Even when a spot opened up in the Ashes squad following Wareham’s devastating ACL injury, another leg-spinner in Alana King pipped the South Australian at the post.

Every wicket: Wellington takes the BKT Golden Arm

“It’s ridiculous how far we’ve come when you think about it,” Wellington said.

“There’s so many people that could easily come into the squad and perform naturally.

“We’ve seen it with Alana King, she came into the squad and she’s performing, you see it with Darcie Brown – two years ago, she was just debuting in the Big Bash and now she’s playing all formats for Australia.”

Part of the challenge for Wellington over the past few years – one that was issued to her by Australia coach Matthew Mott when she was told she was not selected for a T20I series against New Zealand in late 2018 – was to improve the other facets of her game.

“When Wello was left out of the team, we were looking for three-dimensional players, and that’s why we went down the track with Georgia Wareham at the time,” Mott told cricket.com.au before the World Cup.

“I remember there was a lot of debate around that decision.

“We certainly said she needed to work on that athleticism in the field, and even between the wickets – being able to get up and down the wickets was important, and something that Georgia’s definitely displayed the last couple of years.”

Identifying that she did not have the speed to routinely field on the boundary, Wellington instead put the hard yards into improving her agility and accuracy in the inner ring.

She said she had also been working closely with her South Australia coaches to add some variations to her bowling, to complement the big-turning leg-break that has brought so many batters undone.

“That’s the way that cricket has evolved in the last few years,” Wellington noted.

“You can’t just be a spinner, you can’t just be a batter, you can’t just be a ‘keeper.

Maiden WBBL half-century for Wellington

“You’ve got to have two out of three facets of the game, and we’ve (also) seen the fielding in the Big Bash has been phenomenal in the last few years.”

Other work has come off the field; Wellington believes her mindset di lei has been a crucial part of her success di lei over the past nine months and left her poised to take her chance when spinners Wareham and Sophie Molineux were ruled out of the World Cup.

She came into the WBBL fresh off a standout campaign in the inaugural season of The Hundred, where she finished as the competition’s most prolific spinner, and the fourth-highest wicket-taker overall after claiming 14 wickets in nine games for runners-up Southern Brave .

Wellington continued that form for the Adelaide Strikers, finishing as the league’s leading wicket taker and named in the Team of the Tournament.

“(I’m) enjoying the game and loving the game, and always telling myself, I’m always going to perform when I smile when I have fun – and just remembering that at the end of the day, it is just cricket and there’s a bigger picture, “Wellington said.

That mindset was evident when she fronted the media on Tuesday evening, fresh from helping Australia claim a seven-wicket World Cup win over Pakistan.

Before the tournament, she said she was “over the moon” and “a kid in the candy shop” just to be in the 15-player squad. In the Bay Oval press conference room, she could not wipe the smile off her face di lei.

Clinical Australia outclass Pakistan in Cup clash

“It was pretty special,” Wellington said, revealing teammate and close friend Tahlia McGrath, her parents and her fiancé Tayler had been the first people she told after receiving the good news from Mott on the eve of the match.

“Getting on the field, the nerves went away … as soon as Meg gave me the ball they came back, but once I got through the first over, I think I was pretty good.”

Wellington lined up alongside fellow leggie Alana King on Tuesday, the first time Australia have played two wrist spinners in the same XI since the 2017 Ashes.

The sheer depth in Australia’s bowling options may mean it does not happen again at this event, but even if it doesn’t, Mott believes Wellington, King and Wareham will push one another to even greater heights in the years ahead.

“(Wello’s) proven over the last couple of years with the Strikers, and in the Hundred, that captains have got confidence to throw her the ball when the best players are in,” Mott said.

“Both (her and King) have been entrusted with big overs.

“For a leg-spinner, that’s a pretty good vote of confidence, and feel very blessed.

“To have three genuine leg-spin options, it’s almost a bit over the top in terms of what we’ve got to offer.

“It’s going to be fascinating to see how it all plays out over the next couple of years.

“They’ll push each other and it’ll be tough for spots, but I think Australian cricket will be the winner out of that.”

ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022

Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda –Jade Wellington. Traveling reserves: Heather Graham, Georgia Redmayne

Australia’s World Cup 2022 fixtures

Mar 5: def England by 12 runs

Mar 8: def Pakistan by seven wickets

Mar 13: v New Zealand, Basin Reserve, Wellington, 8am AEDT

Mar 15: v West Indies, Basin Reserve, Wellington, 8am AEDT

Mar 19: v India, Eden Park, Auckland, 12pm AEDT

Mar 22: v South Africa, Basin Reserve, Wellington, 8am AEDT

Mar 25: v Bangladesh, Basin Reserve, Wellington, 8am AEDT

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL WORLD CUP SCHEDULE

Semi-finals

Mar 30: Basin Reserve, Wellington, 8am AEDT

Mar 31: Hagley Park Christchurch, 12pm AEDT

Final

Apr 3: Hagley Park Christchurch, 11am AEDT

All matches to be broadcast in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports

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