Ashleigh Gardner is an Australian cricketer who plays for the national women’s team as an all-rounder. Gardner also represents New South Wales in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL), Sydney Sixers in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and Gujarat Giants in the Women’s Premier League (WPL).
Ashleigh Katherine Gardner was born on Tuesday, 15 April 1997 (age 26 years; as of 2023) in Kogarah, a suburb of Southern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Her zodiac sign is Aries. Growing up, Gardner used to play multiple sports, but soon she inclined towards cricket. She spent her childhood playing cricket in the backyard with her father, Jim, and older brother, Aaron. She attended Picnic Point High School in New South Wales.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Colour: Blonde
Eye Colour: Moss Green
She is an Aboriginal Australian. Gardner’s indigenous roots come from her mother, who belongs to the Muruwari community, a tribe from rural New South Wales. Her father’s name is Jim Gardner, and her mother’s name is Kate Goodwin. She has an older brother, Aaron.
She is in a relationship with Monica Wright. The couple started dating in 2021.
Previously, she was dating the Australian cricketer Bridget Patterson.
She gave a standout performance representing New South Wales in the 2014–15 Imparja Cup. She made her WNCL debut for New South Wales in the 2015–16 season. She was signed by the Sydney Sixers for the inaugural WBBL season, i.e., the 2015–16 season. In the same summer, she played one T20 and one 50-over game in New Zealand for Northern Districts (previously known as Northern Spirit). She had a breakout 2016–17 season, with Sydney Sixers winning the title in the WBBL|02 and New South Wales winning the Women’s National Cricket League. She was also named the Young Gun of WBBL|02.
She represented South Australia in the 2017–18 Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) season, where she played just six games before returning to her native New South Wales. During WBBL|03, she recorded the league’s fastest half-century and highest individual score with an inning of 114 off 52 balls against the Melbourne Stars at North Sydney Oval. She earned the title of Player of the match. Sydney Sixers defeated Perth Scorchers by 9 wickets with Gardner contributing 22 not out in the final.
She was cleared to play in the final of the 2018–19 WNCL season after being a late withdrawal from the previous match due to suffering a mild concussion during warm-ups. New South Wales won the title of that season with Gardner managing 30 not out with the bat and 2/36 with the ball in the 33-run victory over Queensland in the final. Gardner experienced the seventh concussion incident of her professional career while fielding during a WBBL|06 match at Drummoyne Oval. After that, she was substituted from the contest. She went on to win the title of Player of the Tournament in WBBL|08. It was the first time a past Young Gun winner claimed the award.
On 17 February 2017, she made her T20I debut against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but she was run out for a golden duck in the 40-run win. She took her first international wicket in the following game of the series, dismissing Amy Satterthwaite via a Kristen Beams catch. She made her ODI debut on 2 March 2017 against New Zealand during the 2016–17 Rose Bowl series at Bay Oval. Australia had a four-wicket victory with Gardner scoring 12 not out with the bat, hitting the match-winning runs. Gardner was named to Australia’s squad for the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup after which she became the first Indigenous Australian woman to appear in a cricket world cup, playing against the West Indies. She went on to take eight wickets from as many matches before Australia was eliminated in the semi-finals of the world cup. Gardner delivered her first major contribution with the bat for Australia in the opener of the 2017–18 Women’s Ashes. She was one of the highest wicket-takers of the 2018 ICC Women’s World Twenty20, who claimed ten wickets from six matches at the tournament. She won the title of Player of the match in the final against England in which she took 3/22 and scored 32 not out, leading Australia to an eight-wicket victory at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. On 18 July 2019, she made her Test debut against England during the 2019 Women’s Ashes at the County Ground, Taunton. During the drawn match, she became the only woman to have gotten off the mark with a six in an international inning of all three formats. She received her Baggy Green during the Ashes in 2019.
Ashleigh Gardner is the only woman to have got off the mark with a six in an international innings of all three formats. pic.twitter.com/iNuH903co4
— hypocaust (@_hypocaust) January 3, 2021
On 8 February 2020, she recorded her highest T20I score, compiling 93 runs from 57 balls, in a Tri-Nation Series match against India at the Junction Oval in Melbourne. In the match against Bangladesh during the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, she led Australia to an 86-run victory via a quickfire inning of 22 not out from just nine balls. She also claimed the winning catch of the tournament’s final helping Australia clinch its second consecutive world championship.
In a drawn match against India, Gardner recorded her maiden Test half-century during the India Women tour of Australia 2021/22. Gardner played a dominant inning of 48 not out from 18 balls during a group stage match of the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve. In the match, she also took 3/15, contributing to Australia’s 141-run victory. Australia claimed the gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games defeating India by 9 runs in the final in which Gardner scored 25 from 15 deliveries in the first innings before taking 3/16 from three overs with the ball. She was a part of the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup squad for Australia, which won the title for the seventh time, defeating England in the finals.
On 11 February 2023, Ashleigh Gardner won the title of Player of the match during the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in the match against New Zealand.
Women’s Premier League (WPL)
In February 2023, she was bought by Gujarat Giants for ₹3.2 crores in the inaugural WPL auction.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Women’s Cricket World Cup champion (2022)
- ICC Women’s T20 World Cup champion (2018, 2020)
- Commonwealth Games champion (2022)
- Women’s National Cricket League champion (2016–17, 2018–19)
- Women’s Big Bash League champion (2016–17, 2017–18)
- ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Player of the Final (2018)
- Belinda Clark Award winner (2022)
- WBBL Player of the Tournament (2022–23)
- WBBL Young Gun Award winner (2016–17)
- ICC Women’s Player of the Month for December 2022
- Roman numerals “LXIV • LXX • XCIV” (64 • 70 • 94) inked on the side of her left bicep
- A tattoo on the inside of her right bicep
- A bunch of flowers tattoo along with “Muruwari” inked on her left arm
- A tattoo on the backside of her left arm
- Aboriginal Custom: The smoking ceremony
- Sportsperson(s): Andrew Symonds (cricketer), Cathy Freeman (sprinter), Eddie Betts (football player), Ash Barty (tennis player)
- She received her first state contract at the raw age of 17, while she was completing her HSC.
- Her batting style is right-hand bat, and her bowling style is right-arm off-spin.
- Her jersey number for Australia’s national team is #63.
- She occasionally enjoys consuming alcoholic beverages.
- Gardner is only the third aboriginal Australian to play Test cricket. The first was Faith Thomas, who played a lone Test in 1958, and the second was Jason Gillespie, who debuted 38 years later and went on to take 259 Test wickets. Faith Thomas is the only other aboriginal woman other than Gardner to play Test cricket for Australia.
- She founded the Ashleigh Gardner Foundation which provides aid to Aboriginal children in sports, education and lifestyle.
- She developed an isolation hobby, dot painting, during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. Notable cricketers like Moises Henriques, Mel Jones, Nicole Bolton, and Alyssa Healy commissioned her pieces. She also painted a pair of boots for GWS Giants footballer Erin Todd which he wore during the Indigenous Round of the AFL Women’s competition.
- In an interview, she said that had she not become a sportsperson, she would become a firefighter.