Australia’s batters will be given an ideal work out with the pink-ball when their three-day day-night warm-up match against an ACT XI gets underway on Friday, with South Africa stars Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk named to appear in the Canberra fixture.
The match at Manuka Oval will be Australia’s only multi-day practice game ahead of the historic first Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Test at North Sydney Oval on November 9.
In a fortunate turn of events for the Australians, fast bowler Kapp and leg-spinner van Neikerk happen to be spending the summer in the nation’s capital with domestic side ACT Meteors.
Kapp is the world’s No.1 ranked ODI bowler and her pace and outswing will be an ideal dress rehearsal for England new-ball quicks Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt, while wily leg-spinner van Niekerk was the leading wicket-taker at the Women’s World Cup in England earlier this year.
The Proteas pair are joined by a host of the ACT’s top talent, including Katie Mack and former Australia off-spinner Erin Osborne, while Australia Test squad members Jess Jonassen, Belinda Vakarewa and Tahlia McGrath will also line up for the ACT XI.
The warm-up match will be an invaluable chance for the Australian players to adjust to the pink ball – something they’ve never faced in an official match before – and to prepare for a multi-day match – a format they play just once every two years.
For the Australian selectors, it’s an important chance to assess their Test hopefuls and determine the best line-up to defeat England.
“Australia’s tour match is going to be a tough fixture, with the ACT naming a quality side in what will a golden chance for a number of players to put their hand up for selection in the Test team,” National Selector Shawn Flegler said.
The Southern Stars’ 15-player Test squad features six potential Baggy Green debutants – batter Beth Mooney, allrounders Ashleigh Gardner and Tahlia McGrath, leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington and quicks Lauren Cheatle and Belinda Vakarewa - with the group to be reduced to a final 13 following the Canberra hit-out.
A win in the Test is worth four points and will be enough to see Australia retain the Ashes with the three-match T20I portion of the multi-format series still to play.
England will play their own three-day warm-up game against a CA XI at Blacktown International Sportspark from Saturday.
CA also announced the 12-player CA XI squad on Tuesday, which features National Performance Squad members Piepa Cleary, Heather Graham and Sophie Molineux alongside recent internationals Molly Strano and Sarah Aley.
“The CA XI tour match is going to give some of the nation's emerging players the chance to test themselves against a world champion side in England,” Flegler said.
“The depth within Australian cricket is at an all-time high and opportunities like this will ensure players continue to develop and have the continued opportunity to spend quality time out in the middle.”
Australia’s squad for the three-match T20 component of the Women’s Ashes is expected to be named on Sunday at the conclusion of the tour game.
Cricket Australia XI: Sarah Aley, Nicola Carey, Piepa Cleary, Heather Graham, Delissa Kimmince, Alana King, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Redmayne, Lauren Smith, Naomi Stalenberg, Molly Strano
ACT Invitational XI: Samantha Bates, Nicole Goodwin, Hayley Jensen, Jess Jonassen*, Marizanne Kapp, Erica Kershaw, Claire Koski, Katie Mack, Tahlia McGrath*, Erin Osborne (C), Angela Reakes, Belinda Vakarewa*, Dane Van Niekerk
*Australian squad member representing ACT Invitational XI
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.
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