England v Australia ODI - Women's
Australia seek new Ashes edge
For the first time, an Australia A squad will accompany the senior team to the women's Ashes
31 March 2019, 12:29 PM AEST
Australia's women will be better prepared than ever before as they aim to retain the Ashes on English soil this year.
When Meg Lanning's squad travels to the United Kingdom in June for the multi-format series – which comprises three ODIs, one Test and three T20Is – they'll be accompanied by an Australia A squad made up of both current international hopefuls and up-and-coming young guns.
It mimics the tactic being employed by Australia's men this northern summer, which will see a squad of Test specialists play a series of matches against county sides while the ODI side is contesting the World Cup.
With the T20Is making up the final leg of the women's Ashes, the 'A' tour will give Australia's 20-over specialists a chance to adjust to the conditions and gain time in the middle while their international teammates are focused on the ODIs and one-off Test.
It will also offer flexibility to the Australians should squad members outside the playing XI require extra game time, or if injury strikes.
"It's a fantastic opportunity and incentive for younger players in the pathway to play in English conditions," Australia coach Matthew Mott told cricket.com.au.
"There's a real long-term view around that and there'll be a lot of strategy around selection, (with) players who are potentially players in the next few years for Australia.
"It's also a perfect opportunity that will give us a lot of flexibility with our own squad.
"If players are in our T20 mix but not our Test mix, they'll be able to cross-pollinate and play in that 'A' tour as well.
"It ensures they're in our eyelines already and there's no adjustment period coming in from the outside."
Mott revealed his team had originally toyed with the idea of taking on the Australia A side in a warm-up game – as the men will do ahead of their five-match Test series – but the 'A' squad will instead play England's senior women in a 50-over game before the start of the Ashes, while they'll also meet Heather Knight's team in a three-day red-ball match ahead of the one-off Test.
The tour will also see them meet an England academy team in a series of 50-over and 20-over matches.
"We were going to maybe play against (Australia A), but now we'll play an English academy team and they'll play English team," Mott said.
"It's fantastic for us to be able to look at those players in foreign conditions … hopefully it's a success and it becomes the norm."
Australia's warm-up schedule, and the 'A' schedule, have yet to be formally announced, but with 50-over matches and a three-day red-ball game slated against an England Academy side, Mott is satisfied his senior squad will also have ample opportunity to acclimatise as they look to retain the trophy they won back from their fierce rivals in 2015.
"We'll have plenty of time to play some really good cricket there," he said.
"It augurs well for another really great tour of England; 2015 was my first tour and it was a pretty watershed moment for women's cricket in the world, England put on a hell of a show."
Longer term, it's hoped the 'A' tour will benefit the next generation of players who could find themselves in the green and gold for the 2023 Ashes and beyond.
"It's a really good incentive, a couple of Aussie A players might get a chance to come over and act as 12th or 13th player for us," Mott said.
"England is one of those tours people don't forget and they'll be in and around (the group), they'll be able to come and watch the Test match at some point, so hopefully that lights the fire for them."
CommBank Ashes Tour of England
First ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 2
Second ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 4
Third ODI St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, July 7
First T20 County Ground, Chelmsford, July 26
Second T20 The County Ground, Hove, July 28
Third T20 Bristol County Ground, Bristol, July 31