WBBL stars headline first U19 World Cup squad

More than half of Australia's 15-player squad for the first ever women's U19 World Cup have top-flight experience in either the WBBL or one-day competition

Familiar faces from the Weber WBBL headline Australia's squad for next month's 's inaugural Under 19 Women's World Cup in South Africa.

Australia have confirmed their 15-player touring party for the T20 tournament, plus four non-travelling reserves, following the conclusion of the U19 Female National Championships in Perth.

Australia Under 19 World Cup Squad: Chloe Ainsworth (WA), Jade Allen (NSW Country), Charis Bekker (WA), Paris Bowdler (Vic Country), Maggie Clark (SA), Sianna Ginger (Qld), Lucy Hamilton (Qld), Ella Hayward (Vic Metro), Milly Illingworth (Vic Country), Eleanor Larosa (SA), Rhys McKenna (Vic Country), Claire Moore (NSW Metro), Kate Pelle (NSW Metro), Amy Smith (Tas), Ella Wilson (SA). Non-travelling reserves: Paris Hall (SA), Samira Dimeglio (NSW Metro), Sara Kennedy (Vic Country), Olivia Henry (Vic Metro), Ananaya Sharma (NSW Metro)

Of that group, which will be coached by former Aussie and Sixers quick Sarah Aley and her assistants Erin Osborne and Dulip Samaraweera, eight have experience playing either in the WBBL or for their states in the one-day domestic tournament.

They include allrounder Ella Hayward, who has become a regular with her off-spin for the Renegades and Victoria since making her elite debut in 2020, and Tasmania and Hurricanes leg-spinner Amy Smith, whose skills with the bat will also see her take on allrounder status in this side.

Pace bowler Rhys McKenna is contracted to Victoria and the Stars, and while batter Claire Moore and leg-spinner Jade Allen both hold NSW contracts.

Queensland-contracted left-arm quick Lucy Hamilton debuted for Brisbane Heat in WBBL|08, while spin-bowling allrounder Charis Bekker (WA and Scorchers) and pace bowler Ella Wilson (SA and Strikers) have senior top-level experience.

Wicketkeeper Paris Bowdler's addition to the U19s squad follows her surprise WBBL debut for the Renegades; the Geelong product was a late call-up for their clash against the Sixers in Ballarat following an injury to Josie Dooley.

Players aged 18 or younger on August 31, 2022, were eligible for selection at the tournament, ruling out 19-year-old current Aussie senior squad members Darcie Brown and Phoebe Litchfield, as well as WBBL regulars Georgia Voll, Tess Flintoff and Charli Knott.

"The Under 19 World Cup provides players with an exceptional development opportunity, and we look forward to watching our team on the world stage," Shawn Flegler, Cricket Australia's Head of Women's Performance, said.

"Our squad has several players who have experienced professional cricket environments, but final selection for the World Cup was based on overall performances across a variety of competitions.

"Inevitably, there were difficult selection decisions, but we will continue to support and monitor the development of all players in our pathway systems."

Australia's U19 World Cup campaign begins on January 14 and they will meet Bangladesh, the USA and Sri Lanka during the group stage.

The 12-team tournament will run from January 14 to January 29.

Australia are placed in Group A alongside Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the United States of America for the tournament, which matches spread across Potchefstroom and Benoni.

NSW Metro claimed the National Championships title, defeating Victoria Country by six wickets at the WACA Ground on Monday, with NSW Country's Zoya Thakur named player of the final after taking 4-32. Moore was named Player of the Tournament, having hit 371 runs at 92.75 during NSW Metro's triumphant campaign.

Hayward finished as the tournament's high run scorer, with 348 runs, while Ananaya Sharma was the leading wicket taker with 16 scalps.

ICC Women's Under-19 World Cup 2023

Group A: Australia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, United States of America

Group B: England, Pakistan, Rwanda, Zimbabwe

Group C: Indonesia, Ireland, New Zealand, West Indies

Group D: India, Scotland, South Africa, United Arab Emirates

Australia's T20 World Cup 2023 fixtures

Jan 14: v Bangladesh, Willowmoore Park, Benoni, 10am local (7pm AEDT)

Jan 16: v USA, Willowmoore Park B, Benoni, 1.45pm local (10.45pm AEDT)

Jan 18: v Sri Lanka, Willowmoore Park, Benoni, 10am local (7pm AEDT)

Semi-finals: Jan 27: JB Marks Oval, Potchefstroom, 10am & 1.45pm local (7pm & 10.45pm AEDT)

Final: Jan 29: JB Marks Oval, Potchefstroom, 1.45pm local (10.45pm AEDT)