Women's Ashes ODIs
High-flying Aussies confront new reality
An unprecedented schedule means Australia will need to carefully manage their stars as they look to continue their recent success
2 April 2019, 04:57 PM AEST
Australia’s top female players are being forced to confront a new reality as they enter their busiest ever period.
Beginning with the Ashes tour of the UK in late June and culminating in the T20 World Cup on home soil next February and March, and taking in potential travel during the domestic Rebel WBBL and WNCL, the Australian players are looking at spending more than 150 days on the road between mid-June and the end of the ICC tournament in March.
It’s a touring schedule that’s unprecedented for the Australian women’s team; the result of more international cricket being played than ever before thanks to the ICC Women’s Championship, combined with two significant tours in the Ashes (which aren’t part of the Championship) and the World Cup falling close together.
It’s set to require some careful planning and management, as the Australian staff seek to ensure their best players remain fit and firing for their T20 World Cup defence next February.
"We’re going to have to manage some key players in and around that schedule,” Australia coach Matthew Mott told cricket.com.au.
"We as CA (Cricket Australia) need to take the lead on this and make sure we’re doing the same things with players we’d expect the states to do; talk to players, go through their wellness markers, try and work out how to optimise their time in the game.
"Because looking at that period, it’s going to be very tough, particularly for the allrounders and bowlers to be able to manage the physical and mental toll of all that cricket leading into a home T20 World Cup."
Part of that management could mean some players will need to accept they simply can’t play every game, Mott concedes.
"Everyone wants to play all the time, but there’s a difference between them wanting to do it and what’s best for them in the whole picture," he said.
"And the beauty is we do have great depth and we do have players missing out quite often, so if we need to make a call we’ve got the confidence we’ve got people who can come in and do a job for us.
"Our talent doesn’t fall off a cliff, we’ve just got to look at the bigger picture sometimes. The players don’t have to agree with it either, but we’ve got enough sports science people around that have a really good indication of where (players) are at and then it’s about having that conversation.
"Our players are really switched on with that stuff too, and they do know it comes from a good spot and we’re just trying to look after their well-being."
The Australian contracted players are currently in the middle of a six-week break from the game, giving them a chance to mentally and physically refresh after a hectic summer that was bookended by limited-overs series against New Zealand, with a tour of Malaysia, T20 World Cup campaign in the Windies and Rebel WBBL and WNCL seasons wedged in between.
"The players can totally switch off for a few weeks, we ask them to keep ticking over fitness-wise, as you’d expect, but (we also ask them) not to see a cricket ball or a bat for a few weeks and then gradually build up," Mott said.
"(When they’re back) we’ve got plenty of time to get ready, we’ll have some camps in May and they can make that their focus which is perfect in the long run.”
It was just a taste of what’s to come this year, but Mott believes his players will be better prepared for the experience.
"We’ve learnt a lot of lessons," he said. "We knew it would be hard coming out of World Cup into Big Bash.
"People just look at the number of games played, but touring is a lot about adjustments and adaptability, being in different time zones, going on long haul flights.
"There’s so many different factors which come into it. We’re so proud of the way the players still led the way and never made excuses and found a way to get through and showed a hell of a lot of resilience.
"It can be done and you can play tired and you can adapt.
"That’s professional sport, you’re never going to feel 100 per cent all the time and sometimes managing how you operate at 90 per cent can be the difference between good teams and great teams."
One blessing for the Australians was the postponement of the tour of the Caribbean, which had originally been slated for May ahead of the UK tour, but will now be played in September.
"Originally when we had West Indies tour in there we were wondering how we’d be able to keep everyone up and about with all the travel that’s involved,” Australia coach Matthew Mott told cricket.com.au.
"It works out really well. If it was a perfect world, perhaps we’d have a week between the two (Ashes and Windies tours) and knock them over at once - that wasn’t to be, but this is the next best thing."
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