What is it? As the name of the trophy suggests, this is the female equivalent of the men’s competition between Australia and England, and the rivalry is every bit as fierce.
There’s no urn, but the origins of the women’s Ashes trophy actually date back 300 years.
Charlotte Edwards with the Women's Ashes in 2013 // Getty Images
The Southern Stars take England on three ODIs, a Test match, and three Twenty20 internationals, with a weighted points system determining who emerges triumphant from six weeks of intense cricket.
Quick Single: Women's team hungry for Ashes victory
When is it? Well depending when you’re reading this, it pretty much starts now! The series kicks off with an ODI at Somerset County Ground on July 21 from 7.45pm AEST, and is quickly followed by two more ODIs on Thursday and Sunday, before a break to the one-off Test and the T20 internationals thereafter. You can find the full fixture here.
Mic'd up with skipper Meg Lanning
How can I follow the series? That’s an easy one – free, live and exclusive on cricket.com.au. You can also listen to ABC Grandstand’s through cricket.com.au’s match centre.
Cricket.com.au will also keep you updated via social media.
How are the form lines?
Australia: The Southern Stars are running hot. Seriously hot. Since narrowly losing the Ashes at the start of 2014, they’ve won a third straight World T20 competition, and whitewashed Pakistan and West Indies in home-based ODI and T20 series – that’s 16 wins from 16 matches.
They’ve since enjoyed a lengthy break before reconvening in recent weeks for their Ashes preparation at Australia’s National Cricket Centre in Brisbane under new coach Matthew Mott.
New Southern Stars coach Matthew Mott // Getty Images
"That Ashes fire is burning, the girls are really hungry," Mott told cricket.com.au recently. "We've had some great chats about how we're going to approach the English players in the series ahead and it really has crystallised our thoughts and our preparation.
"It's a big tour to start with (for me) and it's one we want to cross off and get on the front foot against the English as soon as we can."
England: The Southern Stars may have been on fire, but England can claim a trump card – they hold the Ashes. The Old Enemy have won three of the past four series and, like their male counterparts, are unbeaten at home since 2001.
England lost their most recent Test at home to India by six wickets after being skittled for 92 in their first innings.
Since taking on Australia in 2013-14, they’ve beaten India 2-0 and New Zealand 3-2 in one-day series.
In T20 internationals, they were runners-up to the Stars in the World T20 tournament in Bangladesh, before clean sweeping South Africa and downing New Zealand 2-1 in a couple of three-match series.
What’s the head-to-head look like? In 47 Tests since 1934, Australia hold the slightest edge, winning 11 Tests, losing nine and with 27 drawn. Australia have translated that into seven series wins, six losses and seven draws.
Between 1985 and 2005, Australia didn’t lose an Ashes Test, winning seven and drawing eight of the contests, but honours have been even since 2009, with two drawn Tests and one win each.
What are the squads?
Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Alex Blackwell (vc), Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton (Test and ODI squads only), Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Rene Farrell, Holly Ferling, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince (T20 International squad only), Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani.
England: Charlotte Edwards (c), Katherine Brunt, Kathryn Cross, Georgia Elwiss, Lydia Greenway, Rebecca Grundy, Jenny Gunn, Amy Jones, Heather Knight, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Lauren Winfield.
Who should we keep an eye out for?
Australia: The Southern Stars’ dynamic duo of Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry have dominated international cricket, regularly providing fireworks and breaking records via sizzling performances with either bat or ball.
Superstar pair Perry and Lanning // Getty Images
Teenage quick Holly Ferling has also been tipped to shine, while Perry herself has nominated 30-year-old Ashes debutant Kristen Beams to be influential.
"I think she is going to be a real asset for us," Perry said. "She's a very experienced cricketer and a really smart one. It's really evident in the way she bowls. She works out batters really quickly and has a great tactical nous."
Beams could well pose a serious threat // Getty Images
England: it’s hard to go past veteran superstar Charlotte Edwards, the skipper who debuted as a 16-year-old and has spent two decades in the national side, breaking all sorts of batting records in the process.
Edwards scored her ninth ODI hundred last August against the touring Indians, a record in women’s cricket.
One fact you need to know: England have won on both occasions since the Women's Ashes went to a points-based system across all three formats of the game – despite the Southern Stars winning four games to three last year.
The crucial factor 18 months ago was Australia lost the six-point Test match, which doubled as the opening match. They were unable to bounce back despite winning 2-1 in both the T20 and ODI series.
However a tweaking of the format means the Test match is now worth four points, while each T20 and ODI fixture is worth two – changes Perry believes could give Australia, who have a team hardened with limited overs experience, the upper hand.
"I think starting off with the one-dayers gives us a really good opportunity to start well and hopefully be on the front foot," Perry said ahead of the opening ODI fixture in Taunton on Tuesday.
"The biggest key in this series is consistency, because you've got to adapt so quickly to the different formats of the game.
"It makes them all extremely important and relevant. The Test match is worth four points, but if you play three ODIs then combined they're worth six and it's the same with the T20s.
"Every tour match is important and we haven't really placed emphasis on one format or the other."
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