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Australia have trimmed their 15-player squad by two for the historic Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes Series day-night Test match, with leg-spinner Kristen Beams and fast bowler Belinda Vakarewa omitted.
The pair were informed after Australia's three-day pink-ball practice match against an ACT Invitational XI in Canberra on Sunday. The team arrived in Sydney yesterday to finalise preparations for the first-ever day-night Ashes Test starting Thursday at North Sydney Oval.
A win in the four-day Test would earn Australia the four points they need to retain the trophy they won off England two years ago.
Beams was 12th man for Australia in Canberra while Vakarewa, the sole addition to the playing group that won the ODI leg 2-1, represented the ACT.
"Belinda showed promising signs with the ball and is definitely a player of the future, and whilst she would be disappointed, it's pleasing to see so many pace bowlers putting their hands up for selection," said selector Shawn Flegler.
"Kristen was also unlucky to miss out on selection, with the Panel opting to go with just the one leg-spinner in the side.
"A win in this match could see Australia take an unassailable lead in the series and retain the Ashes, so it was important that the side was well-balanced and capable of taking 20 wickets."
Having whittled the squad by two, Australia's selectors will need to cull two more when finalising the playing XI for the Test match.
The squad includes five uncapped Test players: Ashleigh Gardner, Tahlia McGrath, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Beth Mooney and Lauren Cheatle.
While Australia's top seven looks set, even if the batting order is still unknown, the make-up of the bowling attack is set to be the toughest selection dilemma.
Spearhead Megan Schutt is a certain starter, as is leg-spinner Wellington, while Cheatle's left-arm point of difference will be hard to ignore.
Which leaves Jess Jonassen, McGrath and Gardner potentially fighting for one spot in the XI.
Each player offers something different and the pitch at North Sydney Oval will likely have a lot to say in who gets the nod.
It’s all getting very real... final fitting for my test blazer & only 2 more sleeps until we take on Eng in the first ever d/n Ashes test 🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/x2uqqD8ZxI— Rachael Haynes 🏏 (@RachaelHaynes) November 6, 2017
Should the pitch be green and deemed helpful for seam bowling, McGrath's right-arm medium pacers could be an asset, as shown when she picked up the wickets of Elyse Villani, Rachael Haynes and Ellyse Perry in the space of four balls on Sunday.
If the wicket looks set to take turn, the right-arm off-spin of Gardner and her explosive batting would go up against Jonassen's left-arm orthodox and Test match experience. Jonassen made 99 at Canterbury the last time Australia and England squared off in a Test match.
Should Gardner debut she would become just the third player of Indigenous descent to play Test cricket for Australia behind Faith Thomas in 1958 and Jason Gillespie, who debuted in 1996 and captured 259 Test wickets.
Previewing the match on this week's episode of The Unplayable Podcast, former Australia captain Lisa Sthalekar believes Australia have the edge over England.
"I think the (Australia) batters are a little more stable and contributing more than England," Sthalekar said.
"I think (Australia's) bowlers, and I'm basing this on ODI cricket where England were obviously the world champions, they've come out and picked up regular wickets and bowled in better areas than England.
"Unless (Katherine) Brunt and (Anya) Shrubsole at the top change things and everyone else can feed off them, I think England will really struggle to pick up 20 wickets."
The Australians will train under lights at North Sydney Oval on Tuesday evening before completing their final hit-out on Wednesday afternoon.
Australia Test squad: Alex Blackwell, Nicole Bolton, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes (c), Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Meanwhile, the Governer-General's XI to play a T20 match against England ahead of the shortest format section of the Women's Ashes has been named, featuring a mix of international stars and rising talent, including seven teenagers, the youngest of whom is Rachel Trenaman, a 16-year-old leg-spinner from NSW who played in the corresponding fixture a year ago in a win against South Africa.
The side will be captained by Southern Stars regular Nicole Bolton, a veteran in this squad at age 28, and Flegler said giving the next generation an opportunity against the England side was important.
"It’s really pleasing to be able to give some of Australia’s young talent chance to test themselves against an international side," Flegler said.
"With an average age of 20, It’s great to see some new faces put their hand up, with only three of these squad members part of last year’s team.
“Nicole Bolton will bring some fantastic skills and experience to the side and will be looking to lead this young team from the front.”
The squad will asemble in Sydney on November 14 ahead of the matchat Drummoyne Oval from 6.30pm the following evening.
Governor-General’s XI squad: Nicole Bolton (WA, 28), Hayleigh Brennan (VIC, 18), Lauren Cheatle (NSW, 20), Josephine Dooley (QLD, 17), Erin Fazackerley (TAS, 19), Heather Graham (WA, 21), Mikayla Hinkley (NSW, 19), Sophie Molineux (VIC, 19), Naomi Stalenberg (NSW, 23), Rachel Trenaman (NSW, 16), Chelsea Veney (Cricket ADF, 22), Georgia Wareham (VIC,18)
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes
Australia lead England 4-2
Australia squad (ODI and Test): Rachael Haynes (c), Alex Blackwell (vc), Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa (Test only), Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.
England squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Laura Marsh, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Nat Sciver, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.
First ODI Australia won by two wickets
Second ODI Australia won by 75 runs (DLS method)
Third ODI England won by 20 runs (DLS method)
Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12
First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17
North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation
Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19
Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21
Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT