Although Elyse Villani is out of Australia’s T20 World Cup squad, she will play the Bushfire Cricket Bash. The star-studded game will take place before the KFC BBL final at the SCG between Ponting XI v Warne XI.
On that day, Australia will face India at Junction Oval in the ongoing CommBank T20I Tri-Series as well. And all the funds will be given to the victims of the bushfire. Villani, who represented Australia in 99 international games across formats, didn’t deny her desire to return in the national squad.
However, she is happy for the opportunity where the legends of the game will take part. They are Brian Lara, Adam Gilchrist, Yuvraj Singh, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Brett Lee and Wasim Akram etc.
“I’m feeling pretty chuffed to be asked to be honest, reading through the names of all the legends of the game who are involved,” Elyse Villani told cricket.com.au. “I’m looking at it as an enormous opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best and to play a small part in putting some smiles on people’s faces and helping to raise some much-needed funds.”
“When I saw the names I was thinking, ‘why am I in this list?’ It’s incredible to see this happen and I’m really proud of cricket for thinking of an initiative to bring people together and raise some funds,” she added.
Although it is not yet decided which XI she will play, she admits there are some bowlers like Shane Warne, Lee and Wasim Akram whom she is afraid to face.
“There’s a list of bowlers I don’t want to face, to be honest,” she shared with a laugh. “I’m happy to face Grace Harris because I’ve faced her a bit but apart from that, I’m not sure there’s too many I do want to face, I’m a bit nervous.”
Elyse Villani has last donned the yellow jersey last year in March when she played against New Zealand in ODI. On the other hand, her last appearance in T20I was in 2018. Moreover, she didn’t get a single game to play in the Ashes in the United Kingdom last July despite being in the 15-member squad.
Later, she failed to make it to the cut against West Indies and Sri Lanka. Even she had a poor show in the Big Bash League while leading Melbourne Stars. She had an average of 24.57. Her rough patch didn’t help her to get back in the national team.
Elyse Villani on her exclusion from the national squad
“It was pretty heartbreaking,” Elyse Villani said. “I thought I was an outside chance if they were to pick a back-up batter and then hopefully work my way back in that way, but the selectors have gone down the route of allrounders and that’s not something I can offer at the moment.”
“Anyone that has missed out on selection knows it sucks, but it’s nice to be playing in this Bushfire Cricket Bash. It helps you maintain perspective … you can get caught in the cricket bubble, so to maintain perspective is really important. I try not to be too consumed by it, but it is always disappointing when you miss out,” she further added.
However, she is hopeful of playing international cricket again, but as of now, she has fixed her focus on her domestic side – Victoria at the Women’s National Cricket League Final. Moreover, they are not getting the service of six players due to national duties.
“I still have a burning desire to play cricket for Australia and I caught up with (coach) Matthew Mott and spoke to (national selector) Shawn Flegler and I understand where I sit at the moment, I’m not really at the forefront of selectors’ minds. I feel personally I’m playing some really good cricket at the moment and I don’t see why, in the future, if I’m playing good cricket why I couldn’t be on the selection table again,” she shared.
Meanwhile, the aggressive batter has already started her second career off the field. She was a commentator on the Seven Network for both the WBBL and BBL, alongside on SEN 1116 and Macquarie Sports Radio.
“It’s something I’m really enjoying,” Villani said. “It’s really important to maintain balance outside of cricket because it can be such a rollercoaster and you can get pretty consumed. The commentary is still within the sport but it’s completely different to playing, and I think I learn a great deal about the game from watching it and commentating on it,” she expressed.
“It’s amazing to combine a bit of part-time work with my playing commitments and looking towards the future in terms of what off-field roles I might hold in the future – but hopefully not for a few more years,” Elyse Villani concluded.