Naomi Staleneberg makes Southern Stars

International debut: Penrith junior cricketer Naomi Stalenberg (middle) is set to play against India. Here she is with fellow Penrith juniors Mikayla Hinkley and Pat Cummins.Penrith junior cricket players Naomi Stalenberg, 21, and Mikayla Hinkley, 17, have made the most of their experience with the Sydney Thunder in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League.

Stalenberg is finding her feet as a member of the NSW Southern Stars squad and has made a real impression in the T20 format after she was selected for the national team.

Stalenberg learned of her selection in Southern Stars team early last week and said she was taken aback.

“I was over the moon,” she said. “I didn’t believe it at first. I didn’t really know what to feel. It was very out of the blue. It still hasn’t sunk in.

“It’s an absolute honour to play for your country, I can’t believe it.”

While she was certainly excited by the news, Stalenberg said she found out while at her day job, and had to try to keep herself composed.

“I was at work and told Mikalya Hinkley and she was screaming,” she said. “And then I kind of had to keep everything under wraps.

“A few people sent me a few messages last night and I knew it was officially announced at 10am, Tuesday, and pretty much straight after that I had heaps of messages and phone calls.”

Her selection comes following her impressive form for the Thunder, where she has a reputation of being a big hitter, having faced 87 balls for 160 runs, at a strike rate of 183 during the season.

Hinkley has played at a professional level, with her role mostly limited to fielding, but did make 15 from nine balls in a match against the Brisbane Heat.

At the moment, both will focus on a strong finish to the season for the Thunder, who sit atop the WBBL ladder, with just two games remaining, making them near certainties to play in the finals. The final of the WBBL will be just two days before the international T20 games.

The Southern Stars will play three games against India — on January 26, 29 and 31 — with the final game to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

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