BENDIGO'S Tayla Vlaeminck is still pinching herself after the dual highs of making her Australian Test debut and being part of a Women's Ashes triumph in England.
The 20-year-old is back on familiar turf in Bendigo this week, a brisk trip home a chance more than anything to catch her breath after a whirlwind past two-months with the national side.
It's also been an opportunity for the speedster to reflect on her rise to Australian Test cricketer.
The former Strathdale-Maristians junior made her Test debut in a victory against in England in Taunton last month.
With opportunities to play Test cricket scarce for our women's national team, Vlaeminck knew she had to stake her claim early in England to win over the selectors.
"There was a bit pressure on to get a game, you only get to play a Test (match) every two years," she said.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform in the warm-up games to get that Baggy Green - to get it and receive it off Mitch Starc as well - it was a pretty special morning.
"It's a moment I'll never forget and an awesome four days I'll never forget."
Vlaeminck revealed Starc's simple, but pragmatic advice to her on the morning of the game.
"Everyone asks what he said and to be honest, I had to watch the video back because at the same time I was a bit overwhelmed and not taking it in," she laughed.
"But when I watched it back he just told me 'to enjoy it, you're now part of the Baggy Green family and that everyone out there on your side will have your back'.
"'Just play with a smile on your face and enjoy it as you don't get to do it very often'.
"Initially I was very nervous, but Rach Haynes - one of the older girls in the squad - came up to me and said 'you only have to bowl your first over once'.
"Once I got it out the way, the next two (overs) were good. My job was just to run in and hit the pitch hard and let the other girls attack with their spin.
"I was happy enough with my second and third spells."
While she eventually went without a wicket in 11 overs, a successful campaign for Vlaeminck included a haul of 4-31 in a tour game against the England Academy and a spell of 1-9 in the third T20 clash at Bristol.
One of three players to make their Test debut in England alongside Ashleigh Gardner and Sophie Molineux, Vlaeminck said she looked forward to a day when more women's Tests were played around the world.
"I'd love it and I know all the girls loved getting the whites out and the red ball," she said.
"We had a great time and it's definitely something we'd like to do more of.
"Obviously T20 has led the way in women's cricket in terms of getting more media coverage and players participating, but eventually if we play more Test cricket, the standard of the games will improve.
"I know I'm not the only one who'd want more Test cricket."
Focus now for Vlaeminck will be on selection for the forthcoming West Indies tour from August to mid-September.
It's a region, which holds fond memories for the youngster and plenty of her Ashes team-mates, who were members of Australia's winning squad at the 2018 T-20 World Cup in the Caribbean.
From there Vlaeminck will head to Tasmania, where she will line up for the Hobart Hurricanes in the fifth edition of the Women's Big Bash, and on to Melbourne for her Women's National Cricket League commitments with Victoria.
It's a change of scenery for Vlaeminck, who made her WBBL debut for the Melbourne Renegades last season, and played six matches, including a brilliant haul of 4-29 on debut against Sydney Thunder.
"I had a really great time at Melbourne Renegades, I was there for three years, but I think the opportunity Hobart offered and the chance for a fresh start after a lot of injuries with the Renegades is something new and exciting," she said.
"It's the first stand-alone WBBL and kicks-off in late October, so I'm looking forward to getting down there."
Just five years on form playing her first game of cricket in Bendigo, Vlaeminck marvels at how far women's cricket has come.
"When I started playing I played with my brother (James) at Strathdale Maristians and there was no other option," she said.
"Now if any girl in Bendigo or Victoria wants to play there is a squad available to them.
"A lot of that has come off the success of the WBBL and with the Southern Stars girls leading the way, but there are just so many more pathways available today."
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