Having ticked off her major goal for the 2022-23 summer – to simply play as much cricket as possible – Lauren Cheatle is now eager to make an impression on her first tour of England.
The left-arm quick, whose career has been consistently interrupted by a string of serious injuries, has been selected in the Australia A squad that will tour the United Kingdom alongside the Ashes squad this June and July.
There, Cheatle will not only play in English conditions for the first time, the 24-year-old will also get her first shot at red-ball cricket during a three-day warm-up game against England.
“I’m super pumped, it wasn’t something I was expecting so it was a really nice surprise,” Cheatle told cricket.com.au.
“It’ll be a new experience (and) just to be around that set up again is going to be really exciting and I’m really, really keen to get going.”
Cheatle had a dream start to her elite cricket career, becoming the youngest player to earn a NSW contract aged 15 and debuting for Australia at 17 years old in 2016.
But the following years saw Cheatle undergo four shoulder reconstructions, lose out on a chance at a Baggy Green due to a stress fracture in her back, and miss half of WBBL|07 after having a melanoma removed from her lower leg.
Heading into the 2022-23 summer, after a preseason that was spent rehabilitating shoulder reconstruction No.4, the quick’s only goal was to stay on the park.
After missing the Breakers’ first three Women’s National Cricket League matches she achieved exactly that, playing the remainder of the season alongside all 15 of the Sydney Sixers’ matches in WBBL|08.
“I was super chuffed with that,” Cheatle said.
“I might not have performed exactly the way I wanted to, but I could see my game improving the more time I spent on the park and hopefully that’s a continual trend.”
Cheatle has played one multi-day game previously, a pink-ball warm-up against the ACT at Manuka Oval in 2017 that served as preparation for the day-night Ashes Test at North Sydney Oval before the untimely back injury dashed the Bowral product’s hopes of a Test debut.
The UK-bound Australians will have two chances with the red Dukes ball in the coming months, with an Australia v Australia A warm-up to be played in Brisbane in late May, before the three-day games against England and England A in June.
“I’ve only had the one experience in longer-form cricket … to play and experience three-day cricket was really exciting,” Cheatle said.
“There’s still a push for domestic players in Australia to want to play multi-day cricket and red-ball cricket.
“I absolutely loved it, bowling more overs and trying to find the skill of it … it’s very different to one-day and 20-over cricket so it’ll be really good challenge over there.”