As the England begin their Magellan Ashes preparation in Perth there’s a player in the west that could make a shock impact against Australia long before the first Test at the Gabba on November 23.
That player is England fast bowler Kate Cross, who is playing for the Alcohol.Think Again Western Fury in the Women’s National Cricket League and who could be parachuted into England’s Women's Ashes camp for the day-night Test in Sydney next week.
England coach Mark Robinson told the BBC yesterday that the visitors would be considering calling Perth-based players Cross, wicketkeeper Amy Jones and 21-year-old quick Tash Farrant into camp for the four-day pink-ball fixture they cannot afford lose.
A defeat in the first-ever day-night Ashes Test would gift Australia the four points they need to retain the trophy and it appears England are exploring every possible avenue to ensure that does not happen.
England’s bowling attack will rely heavily on star new-ball duo Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole, but Cross’s Test match experience and recent success in Australia could be just what England need at North Sydney Oval starting next Thursday.
Cross hasn’t played cricket for England since June last year but does have an impressive 14 Test wickets from three matches, including 6-70 against Australia in Perth three years ago.
The right-armer picked up two wickets in the most recent Women’s Ashes Test, at Canterbury in 2015, including WA teammate Nicole Bolton for 25 in the second innings.
Bolton has witnessed first-hand Cross’s prolific start to the Australian domestic season, where the international recruit collected 2-47 against South Australia and 3-26 a day later against Tasmania.
The Australian says she’s Cross’s omission from the Ashes so far has benefitted Australia, especially considered her stunning form with the ball.
"I said to the girls in the changerooms Kate Cross is bowling as best as she ever has," Bolton told reporters on Wednesday in Canberra.
"In WNCL, those first two rounds, she bowled unbelievable.
"And the fact that she’s been sitting on the sidelines has been a good thing for us.
"It wouldn’t surprise me if they draft her in and go in with three seamers like they did in that first Test (in 2015).
"I think she’s a good addition because Shrubsole and Brunt, having to bowl a lot of overs, I think they might need a bit of assistance."
Western Australia don’t play another WNCL fixture until November 25 while England will take part in a three-day day-night practice match against a Cricket Australia XI in Blacktown from Friday.
Watch the Women’s Ashes Test LIVE and FREE on cricket.com.au and the Cricket Australia Live app, with enhanced coverage thanks to the support of Commonwealth Bank.
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