England’s World Cup winners are in Australia, looking to claim the ashes and confirm a new order in Women’s cricket. This preview looks at whether they are likely to do it.
Australia took the Ashes comfortably in 2015, winning the series 10-6 overall and the same points system is in place for this edition.
Three ODI’s are first up worth two points each, a one-off test is worth four points to the winner and three t20’s worth two points each conclude the series.
Whatever you think about the points system it is interesting that you will see the same squads compete over the three formats, something that has disappeared in the men’s game and something that both Mike Atherton and Matthew Engel have advocated in their columns as a potential saviour of cricket.
The need to be able to adapt quickly to each format will be one of the determining factors in the series.
England come in full of confidence after the World Cup win and the news that Australia’s captain Meg Lanning won’t play due to a shoulder issue.
Lanning’s absence will be keenly felt, she is the player that rivals the brilliance of England’s number three Sarah Taylor.
Taylor back in the England side, playing well with a smile on her face is a fantastic thing to see. She really is one of those rare players that makes batting look beautifully simple.
Tammie Beaumont fresh from her player of the World Cup accolade, Nat Sciver and captain Heather Knight are the others the make up an incredibly strong top order. Whether Australia minus Lanning can match that quality will be a deciding factor in the series.
There is just one change from the World cup squad, Left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone, 18, replacing pace bowler Beth Langston, 25. They are all confident and they are favourites.
Head Coach Mark Robinson told the BBC they don’t mind being favourites, he said that Women’s sport was on the crest of a wave and they want to carry that on, continueing to enjoy their sport.
For the first time in Women’s 50 over cricket they will use two balls to mirror the men’s playing conditions and it will be interesting to see if it affects the scores, both sets of bowlers will certainly be excited to have two bites of the cherry.
This along with the fact the test match is under day/night conditions, is a strong indicator the Women’s game is eager to innovate in order to advance the game.
Elyse Perry is the quality bowler on show, fellow opening bowler Megan Shutt will also enjoy her own new ball. Anya Shrubsole’s 5-46 dragged England over the line at Lords in July but I still think it is the strength of the batting on both sides that will determine who wins the series.
It all starts in Brisbane early Sunday morning and it is all live on BT sport. The weather there is been abysmal the last few days and there is the distinct possibility that England will come into the game undercooked.
It is a long series, and if that stellar top five get their eye in early, it will be the perfect end to what has been a brilliant year for Women’s sport.