CommBank T20 Series v NZ
Five things we learned from Australia v NZ
With a World T20 just one month away, here's what we learned from Australia's 3-0 series sweep of the White Ferns
8 October 2018, 04:02 PM AEST
Australia's batting riches are a force to be reckoned with
Australia lost just nine wickets across the three-match series, successfully chasing down New Zealand's totals on all three occasions. The pressure their batting line-up can put on opposition teams showed as Meg Lanning won the toss and sent the White Ferns in three times. First up at North Sydney, their 5-162 proved to be well short as Australia reached their target with 14 balls to spare and their efforts to go bigger in the next two matches saw them come unstuck, held to 8-145 in Brisbane before being bowled out for 103 in Canberra. Each of their top eight are batters who open for their respective Rebel WBBL franchises, with the world's top-ranked ODI batter Ellyse Perry listed at No.7 and not required to bat once in the series.
"I thought that first game was a real test at North Sydney Oval when we were under the pump with four wickets down in the Power Play," Australia head coach Matthew Mott told cricket.com.au. "We responded well and that's what we've been looking for a while. The positivity with which we got ourselves out of that situation was the most impressive thing."
The bowlers are learning to adapt
One major problem identified by Australia in the wake of their shock 50-over World Cup semi-final defeat to India last year was the inability of their bowling attack to adapt in the wake of a batting onslaught. Keeping calm under pressure and ensuring they have better back-up plans have in focus since and the work they've done there showed against New Zealand, particularly in the second T20I at Allan Border Field when they weathered the storm of Suzie Bates' in full flow and ultimately held the tourists 8-145 after dismissing the veteran opener for 77.
"I think our players are now responding a lot better when teams come at us," Mott said. "We've been guilty in the past of trying the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result, but I think when teams come at us we've got some good plan B's and the bowlers are owning it really, they know their roles quite well. Even though (the plans) vary from game to game, they know from Meg (Lanning) and Rachael (Haynes) exactly what's required at the time and the communication is really clear."
Sophie Molineux is the real deal
The loss of star left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen to a knee injury was a major blow for Australia heading into the series, given the Queenslander's experience and poise bowling in the Power Play and at the death. In her absence that role was handed to 20-year-old Sophie Molineux – who had just three international appearances under her belt heading into the series – and the Victorian allrounder stepped up with aplomb, bowling all four of her overs in each game for returns of 0-21, 1-29 and 3-11.
"I thought her series was pretty close to perfect for a young player," Mott said. "She got better every game. There were a couple times she got lined up by the Kiwis and she herself said she got a bit floaty, but when she got into the wicket and brought the pitch into play, I thought she was as hard as anyone in our attack to face. She's a very crafty bowler for someone so young."
Molineux also made a big impression on allrounder Ellyse Perry, who commented after Friday's win: "I think Sophie has been brilliant across all three games, she's stepped in with such maturity and class for a 20-year-old. She's really game smart, really great at adapting to anything New Zealand's best batters have thrown at her and she's bowled at crucial times. She's been wonderful to watch."
There's still room to improve
The batting was outstanding and the bowling superb, but Australia's fielding left something to be desired in all three matches against the White Ferns. Suzie Bates was dropped twice on her way to a half-century in Brisbane while Australia also put down several catchable chances in Friday's third T20I – although vice-captain Rachael Haynes made up for it with an incredible one-handed effort.
"The only area where we needed considerable improvement was our fielding," Mott said. "We did some brilliant things and that Haynes catch was an example of that, but generally we were a little bit off the pace and that's something we want to tidy up in Malaysia heading into the Windies."
Momentum is key
Australia haven't won a piece of ICC silverware since their 2014 World T20 win in Bangladesh, but after what allrounder Ellyse Perry referred to as a "lacklustre" couple of years in the format they look a completely different T20 outfit in 2018. They've won seven of the eight matches they've played in the format this year and after back-to-back series triumphs, they'll look to build on that form in Malaysia against Pakistan before they fly to November's World T20 in the Caribbean.
"The most important thing is getting a knack for winning and we've found that now," Perry said. "I'd like to think we'd carry that into any form we play in. Everyone is understanding their roles now and the way we own that as a team and also individually. We need to keep doing that and we'll hopefully keep getting better."
CommBank Tour of Malaysia
October 18: First ODI v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval, Kuala Lumpur
October 20: Second ODI v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
October 22: Third ODI v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
October 25: First T20I v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
October 27: Second T20I v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
October 29: Third T20I v Pakistan, Kinrara Academy Oval
2018 ICC Women's World T20
November 9: Australia v Pakistan, Province Stadium, Guyana
November 11: Australia v Ireland, Province Stadium
November 13: Australia v New Zealand, Province Stadium
November 17: Australia v India, Province Stadium
November 22: Semi-finals, Sir Vivian Richards Ground, Antigua
November 24: Final, Sir Vivian Richards Ground