Concussion strikes Aust ace Gardner again

Ashleigh Gardner is in good spirits despite yet another concussion, which has put one of the world’s most aggressive batters in doubt for Australia’s season-opening Twenty20 against New Zealand.

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Gardner was struck on the helmet by a bouncer during an intra-squad match last week on the Gold Coast.

Australia’s international summer of cricket starts at North Sydney Oval on Saturday week, when the Seven Network will broadcast a women’s trans-Tasman T20 on its main channel following the AFL grand final.

Gardner, who has now suffered four concussions in the space of 20 months, may be forced to sit the landmark fixture out.

Cricket Australia will adopt a conservative approach with the the 21-year-old, who played rugby league in her junior days and has a concerning history of head knocks.

“She’ll bounce back. She’ll be fine and she’s really looking forward to this summer,” Alyssa Healy said of her Australia, NSW and Sydney Sixers teammate.

“She got a pretty sharp bouncer … it’s not ideal, pretty poor timing.

“The beauty of Ash is that she doesn’t let it faze her too much. She’s still going to attack the short ball.

“Which is probably the way you want to attack it, get on the front foot and face it head on.”

Gardner produced one of the highlights of the past summer, smashing a women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) century off just 47 balls.

The star allrounder will miss the start of the women’s domestic one-day competition, which begins on Friday when NSW face Queensland on the Gold Coast.

Healy is upbeat Gardner will return against New Zealand.

“It would be a massive blow (if she doesn’t play). Ash is such a dynamic and exciting cricketer, a real game changer,” she said.

English fast bowler Katherine Brunt struck Gardner’s helmet during the previous summer’s Ashes series then again in the WBBL. Both blows resulted in delayed concussion.

“That’s too many (concussions); it’s quite bad,” Gardner said earlier this year.

“There’s been so many people hit in the head and they don’t get concussed and I’m like, ‘How do I get concussed every time I get hit in the head?’

“It’s quite funny how people’s heads react differently.

“I don’t want to be thinking about getting hit in the head – it plays in the back of my mind if it happens – but obviously you don’t want to be thinking about it.”

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