England are set to unleash a side of smiling assassins this Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes and not be drawn into any on-field banter from an Australian outfit promising plenty of aggression.
A focus of Rachael Haynes’ charges in their preparations for the multi-format series, which starts tomorrow in Brisbane, is to be more imposing by playing positive cricket and making their presence known in the field.
Wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy told The Unplayable Podcast she has vowed to “bring the bitch back” this summer, while swing bowler Megan Schutt said earlier this week she’ll look to intimidate the English.
“We definitely want to take it to any opposition we play,” Haynes said today.
“Particularly at this level, if you stand back and wait for the game to come to you it will get taken away pretty quickly and we have seen that internationally, teams coming out and playing with a lot more aggression.
“There has been a bit more of the bat dominating the ball, particularly in the women’s game.
“So we don’t want to sit back and wait for things to happen, we want to show initiative when we are out there playing and I think you’ll see that with our style throughout the series.”
Whether that means more chat, or sledging, in the field from the Australians, it matters not to England captain Heather Knight.
“We’re really not that interested,” Knight said. “It wouldn’t be an Ashes tour without a little bit of word from the Aussies.
“We just want to let our cricket do the talking.
“Obviously, that’s the route Australia want to go down, they felt they need to do something different to try and unsettle us.
“But that’s a sign of where we are and how successful we’ve been as a team. For us it’s all about the cricket and performing out there.”
England start the series as the No.1-ranked women’s team having wrested the mantle and the Women’s World Cup from the Australians' grasp this winter.
Completing the hat-trick of monumental achievements would mean winning the Ashes they relinquished two years ago on home soil.
While Australia will look to get in the face of England and deny them their historic three-peat, touring coach Mark Robinson says his players will not fight fire with fire but instead follow the lead of their “friendly” skipper.
“Teams often take the persona of the captain, so we’re lucky with Heather since she’s come in she’s played with a smile,” Robinson said.
“She’s friendly and she’s outgoing, and that’s probably how our team is at the best.
“That’s how we tried to play in the World Cup, whatever was happening, the girls tried to play with a smile.
“It’s always the best way. We’re very aware as well we’re role models for the greater good of this game.
“The women’s game is growing up at a rate of knots, and we’ve got to make sure we keep being ambassadors for the game.”
That “friendly” approach does not faze Haynes, who will only concentrate on how her side behaves as the Ashes defence begins at Allan Border Field tomorrow morning.
“I honestly don’t mind what they do,” Haynes said.
“If that’s their style and how they want to get into it.
“But we’re really focused on how it is we want to be as a team and the approach we want to take into games, and we’ll be in the contest no matter what it is.”
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes
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 Allan Border Field, October 22
Brisbane Charity Partner: Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust
Second ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 26
Third ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 29
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