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Gardner's admissions on her role in Australian side after period trying to “hit my way out of" lean patch

Jarred Cross -

Recently crowned duel Belinda Clark medallist Ash Gardner says a recent innings in Australia's trilateral series with South Africa gifted some clarity after recent struggles with the bat.

In an assistant role to Beth Mooney's 81-run knock, Gardner ended a lean run of form hitting and unbeaten 26 during the second T20 between the two sides after managing just 17 runs in her previous five innings with the bat in the game's shortest format.

Speaking to the media ahead of Australia's second ODI against the Proteas, the allrounder conceded it served as a blueprint after trying to "hit my way out of a bit of a form slump".

Her attention is now placed on working her way into an innings.

Gardner backed it up on Wednesday evening with a team second-high 35 (52), an innings which included four boundaries.

The Aussies couldn't get the job done however, falling 84-runs short chasing 229.

Rain delays cut each innings down to 45 overs.

With ball in hand, Gardner took a global-best 24 wickets in one-day cricket, and was named in the ICC's T20 team of the year to cap off another impressive 12 months across white ball formats.

Often tasked with bowling the tough and final overs and as the frontline spinner in the shortest format, is a responsibility she hadn't seen coming in earlier stages of her career.

"I've always kind of been a batting all rounder within this side. But now (with) Alyssa (Healy) being able to throw me the ball in those clutch moments, and important moments as well...I certainly never thought being an off-spinner I'd be doing that," Gardner said.

"I guess it just shows the hard work that I have put in and just the trust that I've built within my captains.

"I think just with I guess the way that my bowling is going at the moment, that's probably been the most consistent part of my game."

After 150 international games, she's also relishing a role as a senior player sharing some insights "when necessary".

Gardner went on to give her opinion on where the future of women's cricket is headed as more games, opportunities and money enters the game.

Last week, it was announced English players Danni Wyatt, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, and Alice Capsey are opting to forgo international games to feature in India's Women's Premier League.

England has fixtures scheduled against New Zealand scheduled just days after the end of the WPL, giving little time and no option from the ECB for the players to make a quick trip back and continue.

The Australian side hasn't suffered the same scheduling fate, but with franchise cricket increasingly dominating interest from fans and players alike, Gardnder said there might be decisions to be made in future.

"I can probably speak on behalf a lot of people that they would love to play for their country as much as possible and it is unfortunate that there are scheduled clashes. It's a tough one because obviously the WPL…is the money and realistically you have to think about that stuff as well and you need to be able to set up your life after cricket," Gardner said.

"I know for me, I would always love to play for my country first but I guess you have to look at the bigger picture. And sometimes you have to think about other things. And obviously those players have had to have lengthy discussions about what's best for them."

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