Aus vs Ind women’s T20Is, 2022

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A 3am phone call is seldom a gleeful one.

Seam-bowling allrounder Kim Garth, who made her international debut for Ireland in 2010 at the age of 14, received a maiden call-up to Australia’s T20I squad for the tour of India – where they play five T20Is starting December 9 in Mumbai. She wanted to convey the happy news to her parents in Ireland immediately.

“I rang mom and dad straightaway. They were pretty worried something had happened obviously when you get a call at 3am,” Garth, 26, said in a virtual press conference on Monday.

“[National selector] Shawn Flegler gave me a call two weeks ago. It was in the middle of the afternoon and I think it was the day after we played Hobart Hurricanes and I had an absolute shocker that day. It was a quick call telling me I was included. I was surprised and very excited.

“It’s been a few big years moving across the world through your career. Things like this make it all worthwhile.”

Garth quit Irish cricket in June 2020 to move to Victoria with an aim to play cricket for a living. But it was not an easy decision. Having played 34 ODIs and 51 T20Is for Ireland, she perhaps could never have played international cricket again.

“[Possibly not playing for Ireland again] was a big factor in how difficult the decision was to make,” Garth said. “I knew what I was giving up but at the same time I knew the strength of the domestic system here, how strong the local players were. The WBBL was a big pull for me to become a local as they attracted top international players.

“Having played a few years in grade cricket [in Australia], I have seen some of the lifestyle the girls live and play cricket every day for a living and not have to work other jobs at the side. It’s something I really wanted to do and it was a now-or-never type of thing. I knew it would – I think I was 23 [24] when I made the decision – take me a couple of years to become a local. And if I left it any longer, it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

“It was a difficult decision to leave family behind but [I have] no regrets now.”

Opportunities to play top draw cricket were few back then in Ireland. During the course of Garth’s nine-year international career as an Irish, Ireland played 64 T20Is and 44 ODIs. Since January 2021, they have played 27 T20Is – joint third-most among all sides – to go with 14 ODIs.

“It’s not necessarily a step up but about consistency of the games we are playing,” Garth said about her possible T20I debut for Australia. “When I was playing for Ireland, we played sides like Australia, India, South Africa but didn’t do it regularly enough. Which is now exciting for the Irish now that they are getting more consistent fixtures against those sides, which is cool. It is not about the step up but the consistency.”

“Ellyse Perry has been very supportive over the last year. [I] got a very nice message from her and she rang me up after Sydney Sixers’ last group game, which was cool. She’s been a big support of mine and a very good friend.”

“I feel like I have put in some good consistent performances in the domestic cricket over recent years and I am really excited to take the next step up and get back to international cricket, albeit for a different team.”

After moving over to Australia, Garth played the Women’s National Cricket League, the domestic 50-over competition, for Victoria from 2020 and then the Women’s Big Bash League for Perth Scorchers in 2020-21 followed by two years with Melbourne Stars. In the process, she got her permanent residency in Australia and became a local player in the WBBL.

Garth is also no stranger to Indian conditions. She was part of the Ireland squad that played the T20 World Cup in 2016. “With the humidity and heat it does swing around a bit,” she said hoping to use it to her advantage if given an opportunity. Garth is used to bowling with the new ball for Victoria as well as Stars.

Among her team-mates on the current tour, Garth has dismissed Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney and Jess Jonassen in internationals. While playing in the WNCL and WBBL has meant she rubs shoulders with the Australian national cricketers more often, it could still make for interesting banter at breakfast.

“I have Annabel Sutherland on my team [Stars] in the WBBL and Ellyse Perry with the WNCL [Victoria],” she said. “Just from playing against the girls, you get to know them early. Being part of Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers, I have known the girls which is nice.

“Ellyse Perry has been very supportive over the last year. [I] got a very nice message from her and she rang me up after Sydney Sixers’ last group game, which was cool. She’s been a big support of mine and a very good friend.

“I have played against them more playing domestic cricket than internationals.”

It is not easy to break into the Australian XI given the depth and experience around. But if Garth does make her Australia bow on the India tour, the next call back home to her parents will not be at odd hours.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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