Back in World Cup squad mix
MORE than four years after last representing her country, Ipswich product Melissa Bulow is back in the frame for one last hurray in Aussie colours.
The 31-year-old has been given an Australian contract for the 2012-13 season, which features Twenty20 and one-day World Cups.
"I'm absolutely rapt," Bulow said.
"I was a little bit surprised after four years out. I'd always quietly hoped (to get a recall) but it has been such a long time I thought maybe my time had passed."
Bulow was on the outer with national selectors following a disappointing 2007-08 season.
It led to her renouncing the Queensland captaincy but even a return to form didn't get her back in the Australian team.
It was about that time Twenty20 cricket appeared, along with the belief it was a game for the youngsters, rather than the older generation.
But when Bulow plundered a competition best 505 runs at an average of 50.5 and strike rate of 119.39 in the 2011-12 domestic T20 season (including posting the first T20 hundred by a woman), her form was too hard to overlook.
"It has been a long time out but I'm hitting the ball as well as I ever have," Bulow said.
"With the whole emphasis on T20 and the World Cup in September, I had a strong T20 year so I suppose I provide a back-up option in the top order.
"There seems to be a strong push for experience now.
"I feel I know my game better than I ever have.
"After having the year off last year, I was wary of coming back knowing there was such a big emphasis on T20. So I spent a fair bit of the off-season trying to get my game right for the short form.
"Perhaps it is that the younger players don't know their games as well and try to do too much. I know my strengths and stick to them."
Which means we aren't likely to see the Ipswich product attempting any switch-hitting.
"That's definitely not my game," she said.
"I'm straight down the ground."
Bulow admits her recall to the national squad may alter her short-term goals, if not her batting technique.
"At the start of last season I said to myself 'my international career may be over' so my goals were a Queensland national title," she said. "But I'd love one last crack in the green and gold.
"But concentrating on doing well for Queensland is what got me there in the first place so I'll stick to that."
A World Cup appearance for her country would be the fitting finale to Bulow's international career.
"When I first started playing cricket, I had three goals," she said.
"One of them was to play for Australia, one was to open the batting with Belinda Clarke and the other was to play in a World Cup. I've done the first two.
"If I can play in a World Cup, I'll be a happy girl."