'Not since Ferling, Mooney and Barsby'
WHAT do two Hornets youngsters have in common with Brisbane Heat Womens stars Holly Ferling, Beth Mooney and Jemma Barsby?
They were all selected to represent the under 18 Queensland team at just 14 years of age.
Following standout performances at the recent Queensland Cricket Rookie Challenge Series, Georgia Voll and Ruth Johnston were named in the 16-player Queensland squad to contest the national titles in November/December.
Players with another year to play before moving out of the age bracket are considered 'bottom age' prospects; a 17 year-old picked in an under 18 side as an example.
So for Voll and Johnston to cement their places with another four years to go in the age group is nothing short of extraordinary.
Ferling, Mooney and Barsby all went on to forge successful domestic and international careers, and u18 QLD coach Andy Richards believes Voll and Johnston can one day follow in their footsteps.
"We're making some bold calls granted, but these two in particular have a skillset that we really like,” last year's Queensland Fire coach said of the Ipswich/Logan duo.
"We haven't done something like this for a few years and certainly never two (14 year-olds) in the one year, but they're both quality players and deserve to be there, and you can't argue with that.
"A lot of things can happen between 14 and 18, but the work ethic and skillset they have are sought-after at this level, and I certainly think there's a lot of opportunities ahead of them.
"It's just a matter of how they progress over the next couple of years, but the opportunity is there.”
Talent-aside, it is what the girls do off the pitch which impressed Richards just as much as their prowess on it.
"The other thing is they're both quality human beings; they're really good girls and that's as much a part of what we're looking for as well,” Richards said.
"We're pretty excited about what both of them could do.”
Both Voll and Johnston will also be eligible for the under 15 Queensland side, to be named at the conclusion of the state championships in Toowooomba from October 22 - 24.
Richards confirmed it would be possible to play for both the u15s and u18s, but empathised with Hornets captain Leanne Bichel who, because of the representative trials, will be without her key players for the foreseeable future.
"When that 15s side is named in three weeks, (Bichel) might have some more headaches,” Richards said, alluding to the potential for more Hornets youngsters to earn state selection.
"But it's a good headache to have.
"That Ipswich/Logan side is becoming a nursery for cricket talent, there's some quality girls in that group and they've done a fabulous job to get them to where they are.”
Bichel confirmed there would be headaches come training time, but she was first and foremost proud of Johnston and Voll's achievements.
"Ruth is one of those girls who is always wanting to learn, she has been with Queensland Cricket before and knows the system,” Bichel said.
"Georgia hasn't had that exposure yet, but she will be a big thing if she continues to improve the way she has.”
Praise from the coach
Richards on Johnston: "Ruth is a really strong and athletic girl. She turns the ball a lot as an off-spinner, and it's something she's only been doing for maybe 12 months but she's very good at it.
"She's also quite handy with the bat, and from that perspective offers us something in the Twenty20 format at Nationals.”
Richards on Voll: "Georgia had a really good Rookie Challenge, in one game in particular she scored a 56 off about 32 balls in one of the T20s.
"It was a very mature innings for a girl of 14, she used her feet really well with soft hands and showed an ability to put the bad ball away.
"Georgia is a great fielder as well, she had a great