CommBank Series v India - Test
WACA makes Test comeback for drought-breaking clash
Australia and India's women's sides will meet in Test cricket for the first time in 15 years when they don the whites at the WACA Ground this summer
20 May 2021, 03:30 PM AEST
Test cricket will return to the WACA Ground this summer, with Australia's women's team to play a Test match against India for the first time in 15 years.
It's been confirmed that a one-off, day-night Test between Australia and India will be played in Perth across four days (as is the norm for women's Tests) from September 30 to October 3, the first Test at the WACA since the 2017-18 men's Ashes.
The Aussie women have played only three Tests at the WACA Ground, in 1958, 1984 and 2014.
It'll be the first time the famous Perth venue has hosted a day-night Test.
Meg Lanning's side could look to unleash young pace duo Tayla Vlaeminck and Darcie Brown on a surface that has traditionally been the fastest and bounciest in the country, although selectors will probably look to manage their fast bowlers carefully ahead of a campaign that also includes the Ashes, the ODI World Cup and the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
It will be the first of two Test matches Australia will play in a hectic 2021-22 summer, with a Test at Manuka Oval against England in late January to start the multi-format Ashes series.
It will be the first time that Australia's women have played two Tests in the same home season in almost two decades.
Australia and India are also due to play three one-day internationals and three T20Is in September and October, with those games to be played at North Sydney Oval and Junction Oval in Melbourne.
The tour will be the first time the two teams have met in any format since Australia's famous victory over India in the 2020 T20 World Cup final in front of 86,174 fans at the MCG.
While the one-dayers will form a critical part of both teams' preparation for next year's ODI World Cup in New Zealand, it is the drought-breaking Test match that promises to be the highlight of the three-format tour.
Australia's last Test was against England in mid-2019, and their last on home soil four years ago in 2017 when Ellyse Perry struck a brilliant double century in Sydney.
Australia's previous Test against any team other than England was a 2006 encounter with India that saw Australia legend Karen Rolton lead her team to victory by an innings and four runs in Adelaide.
Incredibly, two players who featured in that match are likely to also take the field at the WACA Ground later this year – India skipper Mithali Raj, who also captained her country in that 2006 match, and pace bowler Jhulan Goswami.
There is a growing appetite from Indian authorities to have their women's team play all three forms of the game and they will play their first Test match since 2014 when they take on England in Bristol next month.
"As players, we've said for a long time that we'd love to play more Test matches," Australia captain Meg Lanning said on Wednesday.
"It's an exciting prospect and I know (India) are heading over to England to play a Test match pretty soon so it shows they're up for the challenge and really willing to play that format."
Australia and India have met just nine times in women's Tests, with eight of those played between 1977 and 1991. Australia claimed victories in four of those encounters, and the remaining five resulted in draws.
The lack of Test cricket on the calendar has been a global trend in recent years: since the first women's T20I was played in 2004, there have been 17 women's Tests played in total, compared to 38 between 1990-2004.
Speaking to The Scoop podcast earlier this year, Lisa Sthalekar appealed for more women's Test matches to be played, and for the multi-format model that is used in the Ashes to be extended to opponents other than just England.
"Players around the world want to play Test cricket," Sthalekar said. "When you turn on the TV, regardless of what country you're in, you see that Test cricket is the premium product, and its treated that way by all the national boards.
"I can understand that T20 cricket is a vehicle to the game and broadening it and that's why we're in this fortunate situation where the players are getting paid.
"But one thing I'd like to see, and one thing I hope is that the money that's now being earnt, and the commercial value that you're starting to see women's cricket bringing in, that money to be redirected to play the longer format.
"Will we see a five-Test series within the women's game? No, I don't think we will and that's okay.
"But I think Test cricket has got to be part of it. There is nothing more than a player you want to see if you're good enough at the best and the hardest format in the game. And females just don't get that chance which is disappointing."
India have recently reappointed Ramesh Powar for his second stint as the team's head coach, after he previously held the job in 2018 in a short stint that ended in acrimony with a public falling out with star batter Mithali at that year's T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.
- with Martin Smith
Commonwealth Bank Women's Series v India
Sep 19: First ODI, North Sydney Oval (D/N)
Sep 22: Second ODI, Junction Oval
Sep 24: Third ODI, Junction Oval
Sep 30 – Oct 3: Test match, WACA Ground (D/N)
Oct 7: First T20, North Sydney Oval
Oct 9: Second T20, North Sydney Oval
Oct 11: Third T20, North Sydney Oval