Gardner eyes history and runs in NZ

·2-min read

Australian all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner says she's licking her lips at the chance to play on New Zealand's slice of hallowed turf - Eden Park - next week.

But there's an even more exciting prospect: welcoming a newcomer into one of the most exclusive clubs in Australian sport.

Hannah Darlington could join Gardner as one of just three Indigenous women to represent Australia in cricket should the 20-year-old win over selectors on the tour of New Zealand.

The first was trailblazing Adnyamathanha woman Faith Thomas, who played in a winning Test against England in the 1950s.

After a half-century wait, Gardner became the second Indigenous national representative.

The 23-year-old said she was keeping her fingers crossed the pair could make history by playing together at some stage during the six-match short-form tour.

"I know how much hard work she put in to get here over the past two years in the WBBL," Gardner said.

"I'm super pumped for her to be over here.

"We've obviously seen what she's capable of and how talented she is.

"It's awesome that she's reaping the rewards, being able to come over here and potentially be debuting and being the third ever female Indigenous player would be an absolute honour."

While Darlington's debut will depend on the bowling mix, Gardner is all but certain to play in the three T20s and three ODIs in Aotearoa.

She was the top scorer in a 2-1 home T20 series win at the start of summer and is eyeing another run feast in the series beginning Sunday in Hamilton.

After match two in Napier, the series concludes at Auckland's Eden Park, with its famous short boundaries.

The Australian men didn't play at New Zealand's highest-capacity ground on their tour last month after a COVID outbreak rejigged their tour.

Gardner said she was eager not to miss out.

"That's the beauty of the grounds in New Zealand," she said.

"We do play on a couple of rugby grounds and Eden Park ... the straights are pretty short.

"It's definitely something that you do think of when you go into those games. As a batter you obviously want to target the shortest boundaries that you can."