Annabel Sutherland keen for Olympic cricket gold medal tilt

Australian all-rounder Annabel Sutherland is excited by cricket’s Olympic comeback as the sport awaits confirmation it will return to the program at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Cricket was one of five sports to win recommendations to the IOC and is set to be locked in when the committee meets in Mumbai from Sunday.

It has only ever been played at the 1900 Paris Olympics, where Great Britain beat France in a one-off gold medal match after Belgium and the Netherlands withdrew from a knockout tournament at the last minute.

Sutherland will be in the prime of her career when the LA Games come around, and has been earmarked for the captaincy of the national team.

The 22-year-old along with Phoebe Litchfield (20) and Victorian teammate Georgia Wareham (24) would form the backbone of the Australian side.

“It is a while away, but a couple of the girls were mentioning it, sending text messages around and it’s a pretty exciting prospect,” Sutherland said.

“Being part of the Commonwealth Games last year was a really special thing for the group and coming away with the gold medal meant a lot to the group as well.”

Sutherland, who will likely again assume a role at No. 7 in the ODIs against the West Indies in Melbourne on Thursday and Sunday, said she was eager to move up the order at some stage but was content to bide her time.

She opened with Litchfield in a one-day game against Ireland in July, with the pair belting unbeaten centuries in a 221-run partnership.

“I’m always up for more time in the middle, I’m in the coach’s ear all the time – I’m sure I’m annoying (Shelley Nitschke) just as much as a few others who are pretty keen for a hit,” she said.

“The girls up top are doing a pretty good job as always … I’m happy to be patient at the moment and watch the girls do their work up top.”

Pink balls were added to the mix at training on Wednesday as Australia prepares for the day-night Test on the multi-format tour of India in December.

The Australians believe the game will be held at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, but the fixture has not been finalised.

Sutherland said swapping balls would become more common as the international women’s schedule becomes more dynamic between formats.

“The coaches thought it could be a good chance just to have a try of the pink balls,” Sutherland said.

“We had a (day-night) Test a couple of years ago against India on the Gold Coast and weren’t able to get a lot of preparation in for that because of how short (preparation for) the series was with Covid.

“If you look at the men, they often swap between red and white ball within close windows of time so if we can get comfortable with the pink ball, red ball, white ball, whatever it is, it’ll certainly make the lead-up into Test matches (easier) as they come.

“The men’s World Cup at the moment is one we’re all keeping on eye on … we’ll be interested to see what sort of conditions we get at Wankhede.”

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