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Gardner eyes WBBL path to Southern Stars

AAP logoAAP 3/01/2017 Scott Bailey

Ashleigh Gardner is eyeing off becoming the next youngster to gain international cricket experience as a result of a breakthrough Women's Big Bash League campaign.

The 21-year-old Sydney Sixer is the third leading run-scorer midway through the competition, having smashed 217 at an average of 36.16 in her first seven games - a figure bettered only by Australia captain Meg Lanning (333) and New Zealand star Sophie Devine (230).

Last season, pace bowler Lauren Cheatle (18 wickets at 19.72) and explosive middle-order batter Naomi Stalenberg (178 runs at a strike-rate of 134) were both drafted in to the Southern Stars squad after helping Sydney Thunder win the inaugural title.

"You could look at players like that that had a good start to the WBBL season and next thing you know they're in Australian colours," Gardner told AAP.

"I think it's something that all players who aren't in the Australian side are probably thinking about."

Gardner has already been slated as an up-and-coming star of women's cricket.

After making her state debut last summer, she scored a century in her first match against a Sri Lankan XI on the sub-continent for the Shooting Stars (Australia A equivalent) in March.

She then toured India as part of the Australian Indigenous side, before taking nine wickets with her off-spin for champions NSW in the 50-over Women's National Cricket League this summer.

Gardner is one many young players benefiting from the extra opportunities in the WBBL.

Regularly batting at No.6 for the Breakers in the WNCL, she has been elevated to first-drop in the T20 game due to the spread of talent across the two Sydney-based sides.

"I'm seen as an attacking bowler and batter so I pretty much translate that into both forms of the game," she said.

"Batting at No.3 helps in that if I go out in the first six overs there's only two people on the boundary.

"It's similar to batting at the death in WNCL when you're just trying to hit the boundary."

Fellow western-Sydney Bankstown junior Katie Mack, is the other most likely to have impressed selectors - averaging 71.50 courtesy of five not outs in seven innings for the Melbourne Renegades and striking at 115.32.

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