How Ashleigh Gardner blew the wind out of New Zealand’s sails

Australia all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner felt 270 was a good score for her team to defend against New Zealand in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, especially with the wind coming into play.

On Sunday, Ashleigh slammed an unbeaten 48 off just 18 balls to help Australia reach 269/8 and then took two wickets with the ball to defeat New Zealand by 141 runs and cruise to top of the points table.

In the post-match presentation chat, New Zealand captain Sophie Devine had pointed out how Ashleigh had hit her shots with the wind at Basin Reserve and was able to get the elevation for boundaries.

“While I was sitting off waiting to go in, we thought at one point probably 240 was going to be a really good score. It obviously looked pretty tough early to get going. I think we were going at threes most of the innings and then Pez (Ellyse Perry) and Moon (Beth Mooney) set a really good platform for the team and Tahlia McGrath to go in.

“Once they kind of played really freely that obviously gave me the freedom to go out there and score some quick runs. 270 was a really good score on that wicket, with the wind as well — that played a major part of it as well,” said Ashleigh in the post-match virtual press conference.

Ashleigh’s all-round efforts against New Zealand were crucial to Australia’s big win, especially after having contracted Covid-19, keeping her out of victories against England and Pakistan.

“I was pretty lucky, really. My first symptom was just having a sore throat. I was trying to blame the air con at the start with a sore throat, but then obviously when that came back, I was like, ‘okay, this is probably not ideal’.”

Ashleigh further revealed that she was still experiencing the side effects of Covid-19 infection while playing against New Zealand. “I just had a consistent headache probably for about a week and then from a week onwards to the end of the isolation period, I felt back to normal. Today was always going to be a test with how I was going to feel.

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