The regular Rose Bowl Series between the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars and the New Zealand White Ferns is always a must see on the women’s calendar.
It pits two of the best countries in the world against each other, further strengthens the Aussie v Kiwi rivalry and this year has the added spice of preparation for the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup in India.
Usually held in January, the series has been brought forward not only to give the two World Cup heavy weights a chance to head into the 10th title with bragging rights, but also to ensure that each have their best squads ready to wrestle the title off current champions England.
There are two key match-ups in this series and the one I’m most looking forward to is the battle of the new coaches.
The two former international opponents, in Cathryn Fitzpatrick and Katrina Keenan, have a number of things in common.
Both opened the bowling for their countries and have played significant roles in World Cups.
Fitzpatrick having played in Australian title wins in 1997, over New Zealand in India, and in 2005, their win over India in South Africa.
Fitzpatrick was in many ways every cliché of a fast bowler.
Fiery, aggressive, always the competitor and wanted the ball in key moments and more often than not came through with the goods.
Her dedication to her game off the field was a key ingredient to her on-field success and is an approach she will be instilling in the players she now coaches.
Katrina Withers, as she was in her playing days, was not the out-and-out quick but had movement and control that placed pressure and doubt in most top order bats.
She played a pivotal rolel in New Zealand’s first ever World Cup title defeating, Australia and taking 2/19 off her allotted 10 overs.
Both coaches are new to the role of national head coach and if their playing days are anything to go by both will be pushing hard for nothing but the best from everyone at all times, and sometimes more.
Fitzpatrick took over from Richard McInnis at the start of 2012 and had immediate success, with the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars defeating hotly favoured England in the ICC WT20 World Cup final in Sri Lanka.
Kennan is fresh into the role and will arrive in Australia with a team she hasn’t had any preparation camps or series with.
With international coaching experience on a different level with Japan, Keenan will look to senior team members for some guidance and will be comforted in by the fact that many of the squad have been performing well in their domestic season to date.
On the player front both teams will have similar squads to the recent ICC WT20 World Cup.
One of the big variances between the men’s and women’s domestic competitions is that both Australia and New Zealand run women's weekend state fixtures of T20 and 50-over cricket.
This results in selections reflecting teams that have players who can easily transition from one format to the other.
The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars have one forced changed, with a foot injury to opening bowler Julie Hunter giving Sharon Millanta another opportunity.
The prospect of slow turning wickets in India puts the spinners in the spot light.
Lisa Sthalekar (NSW), Erin Orsborne (NSW) and Jess Jonasseon (QLD) have carried the spin load for the Stars team for the past few seasons and will do so again against New Zealand.
Keep an eye though for the leg spin of Renaee Chappell (WA), who is leading all wicket takers with 10 in the WNCL so far, closely followed by off spinners Lindsay Da Costa, Molly Strano (VIC), and Alex Price (SA) all with seven wickets.
The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars’ top order looks reasonably set with the likes of Meg Lanning (VIC), Jess Cameron (VIC) and Alex Blackwell (NSW) all scoring big domestic hundreds to date.
The pressure, though, is on all spots and coming from all corners of the country with the Western Fury’s Nicole Bolton in career best form and streaks ahead of the rest of the completion with 320 runs at 64, including two hundreds.
Also pushing for selection is Queensland’s Beth Mooney, with 163 runs at 54, and former Commonwealth Bank Southern Star Elyse Villani with 228 runs at 57.
So back to the series and a predicated outcome.
The White Ferns haven’t held the Rose Bowl for over 10 years and taking into account the momentum and form the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars currently have, I think this will be stretched to 11 over the coming days at the SCG and North Sydney Oval.
Jodie Fields (c) QLD
Alex Blackwell (vc) NSW
Jess Cameron VIC
Sarah Coyte NSW
Rachael Haynes NSW
Alyssa Healy NSW
Jess Jonassen QLD
Meg Lanning VIC
Sharon Millanta NSW
Erin Osborne NSW
Ellyse Perry NSW
Leah Poulton NSW
Lisa Sthalekar NSW
Suzie Bates (c) Otago Sparks
Amy Satterthwaite (vc) Canterbury Magicians
Erin Bermingham Canterbury Magicians
Nicola Browne Northern Spirit
Rachel Candy Canterbury Magicians
Sophie Devine Wellington Blaze
Lucy Doolan Wellington Blaze
Frances Mackay Canterbury Magicians
Katey Martin Otago Sparks
Sara McGlashan Central Hinds
Morna Nielsen Northern Spirit
Katie Perkins Auckland Cricket
Rachel Priest Central Hinds
Sian Ruck Wellington Blaze
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 11 December, 2012 1:01PM AEST