Women's Ashes ODIs
Ashes rivals ready to square off in opening ODI
As Australia and England prepare to meet in today’s opening match of the multi-format women’s Ashes, get up to speed on the key talking points from Leicester
Laura Jolly in Leicester
2 July 2019, 11:10 AM AEST
The time for training and talk is finally over: today, Australia begin their women’s Ashes defense with the opening one-day international against England at Leicester’s Grace Road.
Meg Lanning’s Australians have held the multi-format Ashes since 2015, when they reclaimed the coveted trophy on English soil.
Australia are ranked No.1 in both limited-overs formats and currently hold the T20 World Cup, England are No.2 and won the most recent 50-over World Cup.
With the Ashes rivals to meet in three ODIs, one Test and three T20Is between now and July 31, this series is a chance for Australia and England to stamp their authority as the best all-round team in world cricket.
What’s the major news from the Australian camp?
Any injury concerns?
After a few niggles, the entire 14-player Australian squad trained at Grace Road on Monday.
Allrounder Ellyse Perry returned after sitting out Sunday’s session with general soreness, batting in the nets during what was a lighter top-up for the entire group following the previous day’s toil.
Wareham ➡️ Perry 🏏 #Ashes pic.twitter.com/Vztny3Gy89— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@SouthernStars) July 1, 2019
Left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen showed no signs of being the worse for wear after being struck on the arm by fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck on Sunday.
Lanning didn’t field in Australia’s second warm-up game against the England Academy last Friday as she nursed a sore ankle – the result of a fall in the nets –but it didn’t stop her scoring 96 in that match and she looks in ominous form.
The Australian skipper has an average of 51.44 in ODI cricket but her output has been just 30.44 since her return from shoulder surgery in March last year – a period that’s seen her compile just one score above 50, a century against Pakistan last October. To say the captain is due a big series is an understatement.
"I knew my game was in a good spot, it was just a matter of putting it out there on the park and like all of our batters we're feeling confident heading into tomorrow," Lanning said on Monday.
An in-form, fully fit group will cause a welcome headache for Australian selectors, who must answer a number of questions before the coin is tossed at 1.30pm local time on Tuesday.
Firstly, will Nicole Bolton return to the top of the order? The talented left-hander opener, who averages 43 in one-dayers, was missing from Australia’s most recent ODI series as she took personal leave from the game.
But Bolton opened alongside Alyssa Healy in both practice games in Brisbane last month and while she missed the first warm-up in Loughborough last week due to illness, she was back at the top in the second match.
The other questions appears to be around Australia’s third pace bowler. The spin trio of Jonassen, Ashleigh Gardner and Georgia Wareham appear locks, leaving Kimmince, Vlaeminck and Nicola Carey battling it out for the final spot.
Vlaeminck has just two international matches to her name but was bowling sheer heat in the nets on Sunday and while her selection is a risky one on a big stage against strong opposition, Lanning hasn’t ruled it out.
"We believe that Tayla can perform well at international level," Lanning said.
"She doesn’t have the experience but I think sometimes that can help in going out there and giving it your best shot without too many expectations."
How have England been travelling?
Very, very well. After a disappointing one-day tour of India in March – where England had been hopeful of winning their first ever away ODI series against India going down losing 2-1 – they’ve been on a 14-game winning streak.
It started with taking out the third one-dayer against India in Mumbai before whitewashing the same side 3-0 in a T20 series.
England were undefeated in their tour of Sri Lanka that followed, before winning all three of their ODIs against West Indies at home last month and the only T20 that wasn’t a washout.
"You get used to winning but Australia will be a massive test for us, they’re a very good side,” Heather Knight told cricket.com.au on Monday.
"We’re really excited to get it going, we seem really relaxed actually, it’s really nice.
"It’s the most prepared we’ve ever been for an Ashes series which is a great place to be in."
Knight is fully fit for the Ashes opener after recovering from a hamstring niggle, while England have also welcomed back two players who were absent from their last meeting with Australia in Antigua last November: star wicketkeeper-batter Sarah Taylor and fiery quick Katherine Brunt.
Taylor’s form was patchy in the first two one-dayers against West Indies, dismissed for 4 and 23 and prompting former England captain Charlotte Edwards to suggest she should be dropped down the order, with Knight elevated.
But she bounced back with a 61-ball 70 in the final game and if she hits peak form, she’ll cause plenty of headaches for Australia.
Knight is in career-best form with the bat, notably blasting 40no from 19 deliveries in that same game, while England have their own selection conundrum thanks to the excellent recent form of both
"It’s a really big boost (having Taylor and Brunt back), they bring a lot of experience and a lot of skill as well, it really gives us that strength of depth," Knight said.
"Selection has been really tricky, with a lot of players in form and a lot of players knocking on the door."
What conditions are expected?
Crucially, fine weather is predicted for Tuesday, a relief for both teams after the big wet of recent weeks. England had two of their three T20Is against West Indies washed out late last month, so sunny skies in Leicester will be a welcome sight.
"The pitch looks pretty good, we spoke to the groundsman and he doesn’t think it’s going to change too much throughout the day,” Lanning said.
"Generally the wickets over here play pretty well, can be some movement through the air and off the wicket early but that’s expected."
Every match of the women’s Ashes will be broadcast live and free on the Nine Network with radio coverage on the ABC.
For all your news, scores and highlights, keep an eye on cricket.com.au and the CA Live app.
CommBank Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
July 2: First ODI, Grace Road, Leicester
July 11-13: England Academy v Australia, Marlborough College, Swindon
July 18-21: Only Test, The County Ground, Taunton
July 26: First T20, County Ground, Chelmsford
July 28: Second T20, The County Ground, Hove
A Test victory is worth four points (two each for a draw), two points are awarded for ODI and T20 wins