Australia Dream selection for teenager Stella Campbell as Australian women's cricket team prepare for international series
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New South Wales fast bowler Stella Campbell has been dreaming of representing Australia since she first learned there was an Australian women's cricket team as a kid.
Having received her first international call-up to be part of the squad to take on India in the upcoming series, the 19-year-old's dream is fast becoming a reality.
But dreams rarely resemble our imaginations and in pandemic times, Campbell has begun with a hard, two-week hotel quarantine in Queensland.
"I think knowing what I'm heading into, it's sort of building up my excitement and that motivates me every morning," she said.
"Growing up, it was my dream to be part of an Australian team. To be here now, I'm pretty overwhelmed with excitement.
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"The nerves are sort of starting to creep in a little bit, but I think it's mostly just excitement and I'm really eager to get out there and get amongst it all."
The Australian squad's preparation for the series against India was disrupted by the late decision to relocate all the matches to Queensland due to the current border restrictions and COVID-19 complications.
Most of the side was released with only seven days to train before the opening ODI on September 21.
"Being in hotel quarantine definitely isn't an ideal preparation, you have to be flexible and be able to adapt in these situations. It is what it is," Campbell said.
"It's something that we knew that we had to face, but we've got some training under our belt and we've obviously had a really long preseason, so the work is there. And I think if everyone just backs that they've done the work, it'll go a long way to helping us."
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Campbell describes the last few months as "pretty hectic" with the uncertainty around the pandemic impacting so many sports.
"There was a time there where we were wondering if the series would actually go ahead, so I've been through an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows."
Campbell is grounded when it comes to reflecting on the impacts of the pandemic on sport, and her emerging cricketing career. She knows that 'normal' is a while off.
"I've always been sort of a glass half-full person, so I'm not necessarily thinking things will go back to how they used to be," she said.
The young fast bowler is an exciting addition to the Australian squad and has shown plenty of promise through her WBBL campaigns with the Sydney Sixers, signing her first contract with the Sixers at age 16 after coming through the Cricket NSW pathway. Named in the Australian squad at just 19 is a thrilling prospect of what's ahead.
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"It's a really cool opportunity; not many 19 year olds get to experience an Australian tour. I'm very lucky."
The upcoming series against India will be the first time the sides have faced off since Australia's victory in the 2020 ICC T20 World Cup Final — the last sporting mega event before COVID-19 shut down live sport. For Campbell, that makes this match up all the more exciting.
"Coming up against each other after that World Cup final, which was so amazing, to now come up against each other again, after such a tough time since that game. Yeah, it's going to be a really special series," she said.
"If I was to be selected, that would be an amazing opportunity. But I'm just looking to show what I can do. I think nothing has to change too much for me if I can just continue to run it and then be a dominant, aggressive fast bowler.
"That's kind of how I see myself, and that's sort of when I feel like I'm bowling at my best, is when I'm running in, and I'm trying to bowl fast. And I'm trying to take some wickets here and there.
"If I can just keep doing that, that's probably going to keep me in good stead. And I'll be able to back myself and have fun while doing it."
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Kasey Symons is a Research Fellow in the Sport Innovation Research Group at Swinburne University in Melbourne and a co-founder of Siren: A Women in Sport Collective.
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