Universities pair in national squad

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Graham Croker

Alex Blackwell, the NSW Women’s Cricketer of the Year for 2009-10, and Lisa Sthalekar have been named in an Australian squad to contest the 2010 World Twenty20 Championships, to be played in the West Indies in May.
The Universities pair are among six NSW representatives, including Ellyse Perry who is studying at Sydney University, in the 18-women national squad. Perry has also been named in the 14-woman Australian Under 21 squad.
Blackwell and Sthalekar have literally led from the front for Australia and NSW this season.
As stand-in captain of Australia, Blackwell cracked 92 in the third one-day international win over New Zealand to secure the Rose Bowl for 2009-10, while Sthalekar recently led NSW to their fifth consecutive National League title with a win over Victoria in the final.
Blackwell was in rare touch in the five-match Rose Bowl series, scoring 51 and 34 in the first two wins before just missing out on a century in the 102-run third international win in Melbourne.
Her 92 came off 119 balls as Australia reached 7-238 off 50 overs. Blackwell shared a 154-run opening stand with Sarah Elliott (62 to set up the formidable target.
New Zealand were in with a chance having reached 4-93 in reply, but they lost 6-43 to be all out for 136. Left-arm spinner Shelley Nietzsche finished with 3-31, while Sthalekar and Elliot each collected two wickets.
Blackwell and Sthalekar led the scoring for NSW Breakers in their 59-run win over Victoria in the National League final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Blackwell top-scored with 59 and Sthalekar cracked 49 in NSW’s total of 9-206 off 50 overs. The Breakers than dismissed Victoria for 147 in 39.1 overs.
The match marked Sthalekar’s record 13th consecutive finals appearance and her third title as captain.
The senior national team – the Southern Stars – will go into a five-day camp in Brisbane on April 8 in preparation for the Twenty20 World Cup.
“The national squad is continuing a rebuilding process following the retirement of Karen Rolton and Sarah Mathews and believes the players selected will form the basis of the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars for many years to come,” WNSP chairwoman Christina Mathews said.
“With the average age of the squad just 24, the more experienced players will play a significant role in the development of the team over the next 12 months in assisting with the continued development of our young players.
“We believe we’ve selected a very talented squad and we look forward to seeing how they progress over the next 12 months, starting with the ICC World Twenty20 in May.”