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Aussies leaving it late to decide Test make-up

Conditions to play heavy role in deciding who makes the cut for Australia's day-night Ashes Test this week

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The unseen North Sydney Oval pitch and Sydney's unpleasant weather forecast could be the deciding factors when Australia pick their final XI for the historic day-night Women's Ashes Test, according to captain Rachael Haynes.

The Australians today travel north to Sydney from Canberra having spent the past week in the nation's capital familiarizing themselves with the foreign pink ball under lights, first at training and then against an ACT Invitational XI in a three-day match at Manuka Oval.

The practice match gave Australia's selectors a chance to see all 15 members of the extended Test squad a chance to play – three players represented ACT – before the squad will be trimmed down ahead of Thursday's opening day in North Sydney.

But the make-up of the playing XI will likely be unveiled at the toss after the selectors and Haynes have laid eyes on the playing surface, which the skipper and coach Matthew Mott will inspect for the first time on Monday.

"We'll probably wait and have a look at the wicket in North Sydney," Haynes said when asked about Australia's possible Test line-up.

"We haven't really seen it yet and it is a little bit different to perhaps to what it has been in the past.

Villani's day-night findings in Canberra

"With a little bit of (wet) weather around in Sydney we'll have a look later today and then make some decisions from there."

The expected showers in Sydney over the next week and unknown qualities of the pitch are the main reasons why Australia have delayed naming their reduced playing group, said coach Matthew Mott in Canberra yesterday.

"We're going to reserve the right to keep our squad a little bit bigger until (Monday)," Mott said.

"We had a really good selection meeting today (Sunday).

"It is good, we're spoilt with choice at the moment and all options are still possible.

"I've been in contact with (North Sydney curator) Peter Devlin at the ground today but we'll go and assess the ground when we get there tomorrow; Rachael and I are going to have a look and see what we need for that balance

"Obviously, there's a little bit of rain around in Sydney as well, which has an impact on what wicket we might have, but he (Devlin) is really confident the wicket is prepared and ready to go

Entering the week in Canberra, Australian were hoping to find some answers to questions such as: How much does the pink ball swing under lights? Can the batters bat time in long-form cricket? Will the players be able to change gears from the 50-over to multi-day format?

Most, if not all, of those queries were resolved, but Haynes stressed to her team their evolution into a Test match outfit has only just begun and will be a work in progress throughout the twilight fixture this week.

"I think it was a really great experience for our whole team," Haynes said of the three-day match in Canberra.

"We don't play a lot of long-format cricket so it was great to get out there and try different things.

"We declared early in our first innings, had an opportunity to bowl under lights.

"We saw Beth Mooney come out and get a hundred too, which is fantastic.

We want to be first-innings champions: Mott

"I think it's just making that adjustment as a team to batting, bowling in longer periods, which was nice to see.

"I think our batters learned a couple of things and also our bowlers," she added.

"I thought our seamers, particularly, in that second innings did a really good job.

"There's a couple of things that we'll keep in-house that we want to try and use throughout the Test but all in all  it was a great experience.

"It was really great to see little improvements along the way so I think we're shaping up really well for the Test this week."

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.

Schedule


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