Vlaeminck is back
Tayla Vlaeminck, Australia's injury-hit quick, is ready to play against Bangladesh in Dhaka. Image by Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS
  • cricket

Vlaeminck ready to end the injuries and stop self-doubt

Scott Bailey March 19, 2024

Tayla Vlaeminck has spent chunks of her career questioning why Cricket Australia have kept the faith.

She’s wondered if injuries would prove too much, and whether she would ever get the chance to fulfil the potential officials continue to see in her fast bowling.

“At times, I felt like I didn’t deserve the belief they were putting in me,” a candid Vlaeminck told AAP.

“Or that I hadn’t proved myself enough to deserve it. That was probably a part of it.”

Vlaeminck will at last be able put some of that self-doubt to bed in the coming weeks.

More than two years after her most-recent international, the Victorian is back fit and on tour for Australia, available for the first of three one-day internationals against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Thursday.

After suffering two anterior cruciate ligament injuries and a shoulder dislocation, all before the age of 21, Vlaeminck was sidelined in January 2022 when a right-foot stress fracture re-emerged.

 Vlaeminck can be a serious weapon for Australia with her pace. Image by Andrew Cornaga/AAP PHOTOS 

That prompted time on crutches, next to no bowling and a stint with the Australian ballet to strengthen her feet, ankles and calves.

Then, during a return for Australia A in England last year, Vlaeminck’s previously dislocated shoulder began popping out when bowling and surgery was required.

“You think, ‘At what point do you guys just realise that it’s probably not going to happen?’,” Vlaeminck said.

“You watch heaps of girls debut, play and do really well. And you’re not playing or doing much.

“Or you go to a camp and it would be, ‘Everyone do this, but not you Tayla’.”

Through it all though, there’s been a good reason officials have kept the faith in the right-armer.

It has taken only five matches with Victoria for Vlaeminck to earn a recall, still showing the same speed that once had Mel Jones tipping the youngster to become the first female bowler to reach the 130km/h mark.

There have been some tweaks, the quick’s action refined to reduce the risk of injuries with a more streamlined approach to the wicket.

“I feel like I’m back to the normal speeds,” Vlaeminck said. 

“The more games I played, the better I felt and had more control. 

“It’s one thing bowling in the nets, it’s completely another playing in the middle. 

“The more opportunities I get to do that, and the more comfortable I get in my body and backing up, the better the bowling will become.”

The Bangladesh tour is Vlaeminck’s first visit to the sub-continent.

Beyond the next few weeks a Twenty20 World Cup in the country looms in October, after Vlaeminck missed the past three global events through injury.

“I don’t know how I’m actually going to feel when I put the shirt on. I’ll be pretty emotional and pretty excited,” she said. 

“It’s been probably the driving factor throughout the whole rehab for the last couple of years. 

“It’s all a little bit surreal.”