Ashleigh Gardner is one of the most destructive batters in women’s cricket and a potential match-winner with the ball as well. The Aussie all-rounder so far has won three Women’s World Cup titles and is a superstar in her own right. 

She is also the only woman to get off the mark with a six across all three formats in international cricket. This aggressive nature on the field earned her an INR 3.2 crore contract in the Women’s T20 League 2023 auction, where she was purchased by Team Gujarat.

However, what makes her journey special is her background. Gardner is only the third out of four aboriginal (indigenous) individuals to play Test cricket for Australia and became a role model for her community. 

Who is Ashleigh Gardner?

Born in the suburbs of Kogarah, New South Wales, Ashleigh Gardner is an indigenous Australian through her mother’s Muruwari background. As per the 2016 Australian census, only 3.3% of their population consisted of indigenous people with their community having a separate governmental status. 

Historically, aboriginal individuals have found it difficult to break through and make it to the highest level across different sports.

Faith Thomas, an Adnyamathanha woman through her mother’s background, became the first indigenous woman to play for Australia in any sport. Jason Gillespie, descendant of the Kamilaroi people, went on to become the second cricketer to play Test cricket and the first in the 21st century. 

To this day, only three aboriginal individuals besides the above-mentioned names have made it to the international stage in cricket - Dan Christian, D’Arcy Short and Scott Boland - out of whom only Boland went on to play Test cricket.

In October 2012, at the age of 18, Gardner captained the Australia Indigenous team in India and two years later led the same side on a historic tour of England.

On July 18, 2019, Gardner joined an elite list of individuals to become the third Test cricketer from the marginalised native Australian community. She had made her T20I and ODI debut a couple of years before, in 2017.

Gardner went on to make some significant contributions to Australian cricket, which includes a Player of the Match performance in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final 2018, picking up three wickets and scoring an unbeaten 33 runs. She also picked up 10 wickets at an average of 19 in the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup, which was the third world title in her cabinet. 

Looking ahead, Indian fans will be getting the opportunity to see her talents in the Women’s T20 League 2023 and you can be rest assured that she’s likely to light up the stage once she takes the field.

Photo Credit: Alamy