Australia mixed up their Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes preparations on Thursday, swapping bat and ball for a taste of Army life in an exercise vice-captain Alex Blackwell hopes could ultimately pay off on the cricket field against England.
The Australian players headed to the Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane, where they joined members of the Australian Defence Force women’s cricket team for a training day of a different sort.
"It’s so great to bond as a group in different environments and set ourselves different challenges,” Blackwell said.
"Seeing the determination in each other’s faces, I was quite surprised by some of the players who’ve really stood up.
"Ordinary fitness and strength (training) might not be their favourite thing, but under these conditions they’ve stood up, given it their best shot and exceeded their own expectations."
All 13 Australian contracted players – including injured captain Meg Lanning, who is recovering from shoulder surgery – plus training camp invitees Molly Strano, Ashleigh Gardner, Belinda Vakarewa and Sarah Aley were on hand for activities including riding in Australian Light Armoured Vehicles and attempting the over-water obstacle course.
"It’s great to see the way the girls have embraced being severely out of their comfort zones,” Blackwell said, adding she had been particularly impressed by leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington, who made her international debut late last year.
"Swimming across a pool with their full clothes and shoes on, that can be a distressing situation.
"And putting themselves under the challenge of getting through the obstacle course and seeing how far they could go.
"I’m really impressed with Amanda-Jade Wellington today, with the way she attacked the course.
"She would agree that she’s not the one who loves lifting heavy weights, but she’s developing that strength and endurance in her own fitness and her performance today has been incredible."
And while over-water obstacle courses are a long way from the skills Australia will need to display on the cricket field to defeat England, Blackwell can see one clear way the lessons learned at Gallipoli Barracks could pay off.
"You never know what circumstances you’ll come across, especially in the day-night Test match which is something we’ve never played before,” she said.
"So seeing how we respond as individuals and as a group puts us in a good place to be able to respond to whatever circumstances arise in that Ashes Test match."
The Australian players are spending the week at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane as part of their Ashes preparations.
The multi-format series against England will begin with the first one-day international on October 22 at Brisbane’s AB Field.
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes
First ODI Allan Border Field, October 22
Brisbane Charity Partner: Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust
Second ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 26
Third ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 29
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