Ashleigh Katherine Gardner, born on April 15, 1997, has emerged as a cricket sensation from Australia. This talented all-rounder currently represents the national women’s team and has left an indelible mark on the world of cricket.
A Versatile Cricketer
Ashleigh Gardner, known for her right-handed batting and right-arm off-spin bowling, is a versatile cricketer who has made significant contributions to her teams at various levels. She not only plays for the national team but also represents New South Wales in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL), the Sydney Sixers in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), and the Gujarat Giants in the Women’s Premier League (WPL).
Throughout her career, Gardner has been part of teams that have achieved remarkable success, including winning three world championships and four national titles. Her individual excellence has also been recognized with prestigious awards, such as the Belinda Clark Award.
Rapid Rise in Domestic Cricket
Ashleigh Gardner’s cricket journey took off after standout performances in the 2014–15 Imparja Cup. Her impressive skills earned her a debut in the WNCL for New South Wales during the 2015–16 season. Simultaneously, she joined the Sydney Sixers for the inaugural season of the WBBL. During that summer, she even played T20 and 50-over matches in New Zealand for Northern Districts.
However, it was the 2016–17 season that truly marked her breakthrough. Gardner played a pivotal role in winning championships with both the Sydney Sixers and New South Wales. Her exceptional performances in the WBBL earned her the title of Young Gun of WBBL|02. Despite facing challenges, including heat exhaustion during the WBBL final, Gardner’s talent shone brightly.
She briefly moved to South Australia for the 2017–18 WNCL season before returning to New South Wales. In WBBL|03, she made a remarkable start, smashing a sensational innings of 114 off 52 balls against the Melbourne Stars, setting records for the fastest half-century and highest individual score in the league. The Sydney Sixers secured back-to-back championships, with Gardner contributing significantly.
Her determination was evident when she made a comeback after suffering mild concussion during warm-ups in the 2018–19 WNCL season, playing a crucial role in her team’s victory.
Injuries and Comebacks
While Ashleigh Gardner’s career was flourishing, she also faced injuries. During a WBBL|06 match, she experienced her seventh concussion incident and had to be substituted out of the game. Despite these setbacks, Gardner made a strong return during WBBL|08 and was named Player of the Tournament, showcasing her resilience and determination.
Gardner’s international career is equally impressive. She made her Women’s Twenty20 International (WT20I) debut in 2016 and played a crucial role in Australia’s victory over New Zealand. She continued to make significant contributions in ODIs and became the first Indigenous Australian woman to appear in a cricket World Cup during the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup.
Her talent with the bat and ball was evident when she played a match-winning role in the 2017–18 Women’s Ashes and achieved her maiden ODI and T20I half-centuries against Pakistan in 2018.
Gardner reached new heights during the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 tournament, where she took ten wickets, played a crucial innings in the final against England, and was named Player of the Final.
Her Test debut came during the 2019 Women’s Ashes, and she made history by becoming the only woman to score a six in all three formats of international cricket. Gardner’s aggressive style and powerful striking ability set her apart.
In the 2020–21 multi-format series against India, she recorded her maiden Test half-century, highlighting her all-round capabilities. Gardner continued to shine in the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, taking the winning catch in the final, securing Australia’s second consecutive world championship.
Her contributions to Australia’s success continued in the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup and the 2022 Commonwealth Games, where she played crucial roles in winning both tournaments.
Off the field, Ashleigh Gardner was born in Bankstown, Sydney, and attended Picnic Point High School. She takes pride in her Indigenous Australian heritage and has established the Ashleigh Gardner Foundation with a mission to increase the percentage of Aboriginal kids finishing high school.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gardner developed a passion for dot painting, creating beautiful artwork that garnered attention on social media. She also ventured into painting boots for AFL Women’s competition player Erin Todd.
Honors and Achievements
Ashleigh Gardner’s cricketing journey has been studded with honors and achievements, including being part of multiple championship-winning teams and receiving individual accolades such as the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Player of the Final, Belinda Clark Award winner, and WBBL Player of the Tournament. Her journey is a testament to her talent, determination, and contribution to Australian cricket.
In conclusion, Ashleigh Katherine Gardner has become a symbol of excellence in Australian women’s cricket. Her all-round skills, resilience, and passion for the game continue to inspire future generations of cricketers, both on and off the field.