As the top 10 international women’s cricket teams battle out at the ICC Women’s World T20 in the Caribbean, the brightest stars from the next top-ranked sides head to Australia, for a joint initiative run by the International Cricket Council, Cricket Australia and the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL); to compete in five matches against WBBL clubs.

Eleven promising international players form part of the second Women’s Global Development Squad (WGDS) following the success of the programme in partnership with the ECB Super League in July. The WGDS programme gives players and coaches the chance to learn from each other, test their skills against world-class teams and experience new training environments and culture.

The squad comes from seven ICC Members - Netherlands, PNG, Scotland, Thailand, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe - with opportunities for local players from Australia to contribute to the squad.

The squad will undertake an intensive training schedule with a special batting masterclass led by former Australia international and Sydney Thunder Player, Alex Blackwell. This will be followed by a five-match programme, which forms a part of the WBBL warm-up schedule for Brisbane Heat, Hobart Hurricanes and Sydney Thunder.

Thailand has three players representing the WGDS, with 18-year-old Nannapat Khoncharoenkra as the youngest player of the squad. She was discovered in the Cricket Association of Thailand’s (CAT) talent identification program and has earned a full educational and cricket scholarship from the CAT. She is joined by Nattakan Chantham, who started playing cricket at the age of nine and four years later had made her international debut, and Nattaya Boochatham, the highest-ranked Associate Member all-rounder on the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Player Rankings.

PNG’s fast bowler, Ravini Oa, and left-arm wrist spinner, Kaia Arua, have been retained in the squad after they made a significant impact in July in the first edition at the ECB Super League. The third PNG player in the squad is Veru Frank, who had an impressive ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier in July where she finished with the highest strike-rate of 102.81 and an average of 24.33 for her side.

Zimbabwe’s Modester Mupachikwa made her debut at the young age of 14 in 2011 and has grown into one of the most established players in the African team. Chipo Tiripani, who took over Zimbabwe captaincy in 2014, also makes the squad.

The remaining three positions are filled by Vanuatu’s Selina Selman, who made her debut in 2014 and a year later took over the captaincy of the team, the Netherlands’ 19-year-old Sterre Kalis, who was the leading run-scorer at the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier 2018 when she amassed 231 runs and is a squad member with the Queensland Fire, and Priyanaz Chatterji, Scotland’s right-arm pace bowler who has been part of her national team set-up for seven years.

Scotland’s Steven Knox has been appointed as Head Coach of the team. Steve has guided the Scotland women’s cricket team to 11th position in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings, the highest by any Associate Member. He will be supported by ex-Australian international Julia Price, the mentor coach, who brings experience from coaching Tasmania Roar and Hobart Hurricanes.

The Women’s Global Development Squad will also take part in a leadership programme through the ICC Global Leaders Academy. The Academy, which was launched in 2017, has seen over 70 leaders across cricket learn new skills and equip players with the leadership skills to lead by example and further contribute off the field.

ICC Women’s Cricket Manager, Holly Colvin said: “The ICC are excited for the second Women’s Global Development Squad, following the success of the first edition in July at the ECB Super League. We are delighted to be working with Cricket Australia and the WBBL to provide this fantastic opportunity to upcoming players in the women’s game.

“We have already seen some standout performances in the ICC Women’s World T20, showing the women’s game is continuing to grow from strength to strength. We need to continue to promote world-class development opportunities for players and coaches from emerging countries for the global game to flourish as a whole.”

Head of Big Bash Leagues, Kim McConnie, said the League was delighted to be able to work with the ICC on such a fantastic project. “The Rebel WBBL continues to go from strength to strength each season and it’s a pleasure to have the ICC’s support in making this fantastic initiative possible.

“Women’s cricket across the globe continues to advance and having eleven talented players from seven aspiring nations training and playing against three of our WBBL clubs provides them with the unique opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best players.

“We are excited to see what this year’s group of players has to offer when they take to the field next Monday and look forward to continuing working with the ICC to develop women’s cricket.”

Former Australian batter, Alex Blackwell, who will be sharing her experiences with the Women’s Global Development Squad, said: “I am excited to work with the Women’s Global Development squad because I am passionate about providing equal opportunities for cricketers from all around the world to fulfill their potential.

“This development squad provides a wonderful opportunity for female cricketers from developing cricket nations to experience top level cricket and take back what they learn to share with their national teammates.

“Cricket for women has continued to go from strength to strength and it would be fantastic to see players from the Global Development Squad being selected in the Rebel Women’s Big Bash or ECB Super League in the not too distant future.”

The Women’s Global Development Squad is as follows:

Nannapat Koncharoenkrai, Nattakan Chantham, Nattaya Boochatham (all Thailand); Ravini Oa, Veru Frank, Kaia Arua (all PNG); Chipo Tiripani, Modester Mupachikwa (both Zimbabwe); Sterre Kalis Netherlands; Priyanaz Chatterji (Scotland); Selina Solman (Vanuatu) Mikayla Hinkley (Local selection, Australia). Head Coach, Steven Knox.

Fixtures for the Women’s Global Development Squad (WGDS)

Monday, 19 November 2018, 1000 WGDS v Sydney Thunder at Blacktown International Sports Park 1, Sydney
Monday, 19 November 2018, 1400 WGDS v Sydney Thunder at Blacktown International Sports Park 1, Sydney
Wednesday, 21 November 2018, 1000 WGDS v Brisbane Heat at Blacktown International Sports Park 1, Sydney
Thursday, 22 November 2018, 1000 WGDS v Hobart Hurricanes at Dalton Park, Wollongong
Friday, 23 November 2018, 1000 WGDS v Hobart Hurricanes at Blacktown International Sports Park 2, Sydney