‘Quite a handful’: Alana King’s starring tri-series role for Australia earns praise

She has spent the past two days tearing apart batting orders and Alana King’s ability to baffle opponents is what makes her so dangerous on the international stage, says Australian teammate Ashleigh Gardner.

King has spent the past two days perplexing Pakistan and Ireland in the Twenty20 tri-series, taking three wickets against each for a combined 6-17 off five overs.

The leg spinner’s variations in particular have kept batters guessing and earned her the player-of-the-match honour in Australia’s nine-wicket win over Ireland in Derry on Sunday.

“Because she does bowl that little bit quicker you don’t have those cues all the time,” Gardner said. “When you probably get caught up is when you try and play it off the wicket. So you do really need to home in on her hand.

“It’s more that slider, or the one that slides through, is probably her biggest weapon, and then the one that she actually does try to rip is also really effective.

“I know for [those of] us who have played her a lot and faced her a lot in the nets have it maybe a little bit easier than the Pakistan or Ireland girls who haven’t faced a lot of her.”

King has been a revelation since making her international debut in a T20 against England in January, when she took her first wicket off her seventh ball. Success at those Ashes and then the ODI World Cup have earned the 26-year-old a Cricket Australia contract, a Hundred contract with Trent Rockets and a trophy-winning Women’s T20 Challenge campaign in India.

Now she has a spot in Meg Lanning’s Australia squad for both the tri-series and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“She’s played a fantastic role as soon as she came into this side,” Gardner said. “Her T20 bowling is really good. She’s one of those leg-spinners who bowls quite quick and quite flat and does turn the ball as well, so she’s quite a handful when you’re facing her. She’s shown what she’s capable of and I’m interested to see over the next couple of years how that all pans out as well.”

Another standout recent debutant has been 19-year-old quick Darcie Brown, who recorded 2-9 against Ireland to continue her upward trajectory.

“Both of them have plenty of confidence, and I know for Darce being quite a raw, young quick, sometimes it’s going to be her day and sometimes it’s not,” Gardner said. “As a person she’s okay with that, and she knows that when she’s on she’s going to take plenty of wickets.”

As Australia prepare face Ireland again in Derry on Thursday as they continue their Commonwealth Games warm-up, Gardner herself is working on a new role with the ball during powerplay.

The off-spinner has operated inside the field restrictions before, and said the coaching staff at the start of the series had alluded to giving her more responsibility.

“It’s fun to play a different role,” she said. “Generally speaking, I don’t bowl those powerplay overs and it’s been talked about and I’m really excited to do it. It’s a great challenge. Only bowling with two [fielders] getting it out is sometimes difficult.”

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