On and off the field the allrounder is playing an increasingly central role in Australian cricket
There are many factors that have created the daylight that is between the Australia team and the rest of the world. One of them was on view in their record-breaking 22nd ODI win when Ash Gardner came in at No. 6 and turned what could have been a slightly uncertain situation into a charge to history.
Gardner, one of four players to appear in the full winning streak, struck 53 off 41 balls in the latest example of how her batting has evolved over the last 12 months or so. There has not been much international cricket played in this season, but in what there has Gardner has excelled: across seven innings in ODIs and T20Is she has scored 253 off 175 balls – and that includes a first-ball duck in the second ODI in Brisbane.
Not promoting her to No. 4 in the second T20I in Napier with nine overs to go was a rare misstep and one acknowledged by coach Matthew Mott.
She arrived on this tour in good form having made three half-centuries in five innings for New South Wales in the WNCL (average 64.00, strike rate 99.61) which followed an under-par WBBL for the Sydney Sixers which was ended early by her latest concussion layoff.
On Sunday, Gardner collected two boundaries in her first six deliveries – both off Amelia Kerr who she had also taken down in calculated fashion in the first T20I – which immediately deflated New Zealand after they had managed a couple of quick wickets to briefly open the door.