Cricket: Women’s Ashes: Australia wants to bring the urn home
If you want powerhouse teams in world cricket, Australia and England are two of them. Experience, youth, leadership and talent all account for what will be a quality series.
Welcome to the next instalment of the Women’s Ashes. Rather than play five test matches for a trophy, the squads play one test, three one day internationals and three Twenty20s based on a points system, which works like so:
|Format||Points for Win||Points for Draw/Tie|
|Test||6 points||2 points|
|ODI||2 points||1 point|
|T20I||2 points||1 point|
Before the new points system, the series was decided exclusively by test matches. The term Women’s Ashes has been in place since 1998, and the newest trophy produced in 2013.
Last time they met, England won the series 12 points to 4 in England. Meg Lanning topped the Australian run charts with 463 overall, while Heather Knight, with 301 was England’s highest accumulator.
Have a look at some of the recent sides, results and achievements and it is easy to see just why the quality of previous encounters has been at such a high standard. England captain Charlotte Edwards stood tall in a determined red outfit in August of 2013, and it is easy to understand where the confidence is coming from before the series in Australia starts on January 10th.
Clare Connor, who is the head of England women’s cricket for the England Cricket Board (ECB), says England can’t back down this series.
“There can be no room for complacency on our part, and we must continue to perform at a very high level if we are to achieve our objective – retaining the Ashes in Australia.”
The competition does not come to the fore lightly. Lanning, who turns 22 in March, has been given the vice-captaincy, and Chairman of Selectors Julie Savage advocates the need for new development.
“Australian Cricket has developed a leadership program to ensure we are best placed to meet our leadership needs in the future. This involves the elevation of Meg Lanning to the Vice-Captain’s role and the establishment of other leadership roles within our squads.”
Women’s cricket in general has enjoyed a productive, albeit slow growth around the world. Players are becoming more recognised, and the new system has the ability to draw new fans in.
There can be no doubt there will be some very important factors to consider for both sides. Here’s a few key players:
Having a strike rate a tick under 100 in one day internationals is nothing short of impressive. When Lanning hits them, they stay hit. Immediately, there is increased responsibility for Lanning, who takes on the vice-captain role and therefore will be called upon more often by captain Jodie Fields.
At the top of the order Lanning’s job is to see off the new bowlers and set up a platform for the rest of her side. Having done it countless times for the Victoria Spirit and club side Box Hill, England will have to be on their A-Game to the “Megastar”.
Being a dual national, the 23 year old New South Welshman brings a wealth of sporting experience into the side. With the ball in hand, she becomes Australia’s weapon on the cricket pitch. Never mind a recent incident in the W-League where a tackle required her to have six stitches in her ankle.
Perry dismissed claims she was too soft for professional soccer last month, saying, “I love being put into situations which are competitive and tough and challenging.” The next obstacle to conquer will be an England team wanting to win away from home. Speed and accuracy are two decisive parts of Perry’s game, and will be on full show come January 10.
Part of the very strong Victoria Spirit side, Cameron is also the vice-captain of the Big V. Knocking the ball to all parts of the ground, the 24 year-olds career has blossomed over the last 12 months, including a successful Women’s Ashes campaign in July and August of 2013.
Considered a backbone to the continuing triumphs of the Spirit, Cameron stated back in August of 2013 that the team success is being put ahead of personal success:
“Personal achievements don’t really matter… it’s more about my ability to help the team get our ultimate goal, which now is to bring the Ashes home”
Australia’s chances of regaining the urn are high on home soil and a powerful batting and bowling attack to boot.
However, there will be no discounting the England team, and leading them is veteran:
More than 260 matches across 17 years of international cricket is an impressive feat for any athlete. Add a plethora of runs and it is easy to see why Edwards is leading by example.
Edwards understands the challenges facing a side that brims with experience but also brings some new faces to the table.
“We could be in a situation where we have a debutant who has never played a four-day game before. It’s a huge challenge for the players…because none of us play many four-day games. But there’s an excitement around it. It’s a game I look forward to as a batter because you can bat time and get a big score.”
Australia do hold a grip in some respect over the English, having won the 2013 Women’s World Cup, but Edwards and her troops are ready for the fight.
There’s a fire in the 28 year olds eyes, and arm. Brunt extracts bounce and decent pace, and the WACA pitch will suit her bowling style.
Holding back is not really a motto – instead the word attack comes to mind, and Brunt intends to rise to the challenge through unwavering passion and commitment. Economical play is important in one day cricket, and Brunt has picked up 93 wickets at a career average of 21.25.
Never mind that the women use a smaller ball, Brunt has ensured that in her campaign Down Under she will be fit and ready to play the faster and bouncy Australian pitches.
Moulded in a way similar to Edwards, Greenway has already played a major part in the completed series in England last year. Looking to take that form across to Australia, Clare Connor pinned both Greenway’s innings of 80 not out in the second Twenty20 as a pivotal moment.
Quick on her feet, Greenway is excited by the challenge that the Australian pitches will bring. She also has the backing of Edwards, and a wealth of experience that she can bring with her on tour.
Every follower of the Southern Stars knows about Holly Ferling, Australia’s teenage ribbon-haired pace bowler. However, there is another piece to the puzzle, in South Australian Megan Schutt.
Just before her 21st birthday, Schutt says that there will be no holding back against the old enemy. She has already claimed prized England scalps Edwards, Sarah Taylor and Sophie Devine at last year’s World Cup, and wants to follow in the footsteps of the recent achievements of the Australian men’s team.
“’I think Cricket Australia needed that (the men’s Ashes win) and you could see the passion and fire in the players’ eyes.
“That is going to transfer to the women’s matches and hopefully we can get the whole of Australia behind us as well.”
Schutt has some stiff competition in England all-rounder Jenny Gunn, who, like her teammates, has displayed an impressive technique and wicket-taking ability. Having twice been reported for an illegal bowling action, nothing is standing in the way of retaining the Ashes on foreign soil.
In August of 2013, Gunn believed that all England needed to do was win the key moments, after two years of green and gold wins.
“The Aussies came hard at us (in 2009) and that’s what we’re planning to do to them.
“We didn’t turn into a bad team. There were just some key moments that didn’t go our way.”
Summary Overview & Predictions
The multi-format series makes the series even more competitive and has the ability to attract new fans.
Determination and motivation to win back the Ashes from England will have the Southern Stars itching to get out onto the Perth surface. Expect plenty of bounce and pace on a wicket known for being fast.
Both Jodie Fields and Charlotte Edwards will be drawing on a wealth of experience both on and off the field in the quest for the trophy. The games and series may well come down to the use of tactics and strategy. There is the fearsome Meg Lanning at the top of the Australian batting order; but then there is the depth of talent in the England bowling line up to skittle the home side.
A massive bonus for Australian fans will be the telecast of all three Twenty20 matches on GEM, as a curtain raiser to the mens Twenty20 internationals, also against England. It is set to be a very exciting competition.
Australia 1-0 England
Australia 2-1 England
Australia 1-2 England
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