Women's Ashes ODIs
Five questions for Australia's Test squad
Australia’s women will play a red-ball warm-up from Thursday and they’ll be looking to answer some big questions in the three-day match against England Academy at Marlborough College
Laura Jolly in Marlborough
11 July 2019, 06:57 AM AEST
How do you approach a format you play just once every two years?
The sole Test in the multi-format Ashes is the only red-ball cricket Australia’s women play. A win is worth four points, as opposed to two in the limited-overs matches, so there is a premium placed on the longest form of the game – but it’s also an unfamiliar format and there are six uncapped players in Australia’s 15-player squad.
With that in mind, Australia are likely to look towards their ODI approach – albeit a more reserved version – as they plot how to succeed in Test cricket.
"We’re not going to change our game that much, our approach is going to be very similar to our one-day cricket," Australia coach Matthew Mott told cricket.com.au.
"With the ball we’ll always look to take wickets and bowl pretty tight at the stumps, so that’s not going to change, and with our batting we’d like batters to get in and keep the ball on the carpet quite a bit, but still be really positive and look to take the game on and be able to give ourselves enough time to take 20 wickets and win the Test match.
"That means batting positively but not recklessly, batting with positive intent and looking to take the game on."
Who will open the batting?
In 2017, it was Nicole Bolton and Beth Mooney at the top of the order for Australia. Bolton opens for Australia in ODI cricket alongside Alyssa Healy, while Mooney opens in T20Is – also with Healy.
Australia’s first red-ball training session at Marlborough College on Tuesday offered some hints to their early thinking, with Bolton and Healy batting together against quicks Ellyse Perry and Tayla Vlaeminck first up.
The warm-up game should offer more clues – but Mott remained coy when asked which way the Australians would go.
"We’re close (to deciding) but you might even see two different opening combinations in this game as well," he said. "We’re hoping to replicate a four-day game so each team bats twice and bowls twice, and those who miss out first innings will get a crack in the second."
One concern is around the workload opening could place on wicketkeeper Healy in a four-day match.
"We’re not used to playing four-day cricket … but if she’s the best option for opening, we’ll take that because it’s such an important role."
Which quicks will make the cut?
Perry and spearhead Megan Schutt – ranked no.1 in both limited-overs formats – are locks, assuming nothing goes wrong fitness-wise in the coming week.
There are three other pace bowling options in the Australian squad and all three have yet to play a Test for Australia. There’s inexperienced quick Tayla Vlaeminck, with just two international caps to her name, alongside Delissa Kimmince and Nicola Carey.
Vlaeminck is just 20 years of age but already brings the sort of sheer pace that is a rarity in the women’s game – you only have to watch the reactions of her teammates when she bowls to them in the nets to realise she’s producing something special.
Can confirm this talk. My bruise through the middle of my Thigh Pad is proof..... #ouch— Alyssa Healy (@ahealy77) May 20, 2019
With 20 wickets needed for victory and just four days to take them in, the Bendigo product could be a smoky for a Test debut if she can impress in this warm-up.
"All our intel has said the wicket (in Taunton) will take turn, but pace has really worked for us in the one-day series as well," Mott said.
"So we have to take that early if we get a crack at them as well, if there’s any sort of life in the wicket we want to make sure we’ve got pace bowling options as well.
"Tayla certainly hurried a few up in the nets and asked a lot of questions, so it’s key for her in this three-day game to find the right length for English conditions."
Spin to win, but which way will the Aussies turn?
Australia believe the conditions at Taunton’s County Ground for the Test will suit the spinner, but with four to choose from they’ve still got some tough decisions to make.
There’s left-arm finger spinners Jess Jonassen and Sophie Molineux – the latter called into Australia’s squad on Tuesday – alongside off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner and leg-spinner Georgia Wareham.
"We’ve got a lot of hard questions to ask ourselves and it is a big game for a few players to show us what they’ve got," Mott said.
"The balance of the team will be interesting to see what we go with, we’re very keen to win the Test, we don’t want to go in with an attitude of drawing it, so we need a team capable of taking 20 wickets.
"We’re really excited so see what this three-day game will throw up, because that will help strengthen our final XI."
Will Ellyse Perry leave the nets between now and next Thursday?
You couldn’t wipe the grin off allrounder Perry’s face when she was asked about her impending Test preparation following the third ODI of the multi-format Ashes on Sunday.
Renowned for the sheer number of hours she puts into her training – be it in the nets or in the gym – Perry is also made for the Test format, as she proved with her brilliant double century in Sydney two years ago.
With the prospect of again donning the Baggy Green in Taunton next Thursday on the horizon, Perry may well sleep in the nets through the next week.
"I'll probably get to bat a bit more in the nets, which I'm licking my lips about," Perry said.
Jokes aside, Mott believes his team has found the perfect balance when it comes to time on the training track in recent years.
Part of that training smarter, not harder approach saw the squad given the day off on Wednesday ahead of their warm-up game, in order to refresh both minds and bodies.
Facing Pez in the nets like...🔥😳 #Ashes #WATCHME pic.twitter.com/0LZfTXzsyi— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@SouthernStars) July 10, 2019
"(Perry) talks it up but she’s not as bad as she used to be," Mott said. "She had a big hit (on Tuesday) but she’s not on her own there anymore, we’ve got a few who like to face a lot of balls.
"That’s a good thing as well, with the amount of cricket they’ve played in the last 12 months and they’re still really keen for a bat, that’s a good thing.
"We just have good, fun net sessions where people like batting and it’s a challenge.
"I think we’ve got a good balance now, our training sessions don’t go for as long as they used to."
CommBank Ashes Tour of England
Australia lead England 6-0
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
England ODI squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone, Jenny Gunn, Amy Jones, Laura Marsh, Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danni Wyatt
July 2: Australia won by two wickets
July 4: Australia won by four wickets
July 7: Australia won by 194 runs
July 11-13: England Academy v Australia, Marlborough College, Swindon
July 18-21: Only Test, The County Ground, Taunton
July 26: First T20, County Ground, Chelmsford
July 28: Second T20, The County Ground, Hove
A Test victory is worth four points (two each for a draw), two points are awarded for ODI and T20 wins