Australia leg-spinner Kristen Beams is determined to leave no stone unturned as she prepares to take on England in the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes.
Since the World Cup ended in the United Kingdom in late July, Beams has been working to ensure she has every tool she needs to win a spot in Australia’s XI across all three formats in the points-based series, which will begin with a one-dayer in Brisbane on October 22.
Following the World Cup, Beams spent a month playing for Loughborough Lightning in England’s Super League before returning home to finalise her preparations for the summer.
“It's been really interesting working on a few different things from a bowling point of view,” Beams told cricket.com.au.
“Just making sure you’ve got really good variety when you’re playing multiple formats.
“I tend to just bowl at the stumps and try and slide them in so I’m working a little harder on making sure I’ve also got a nice turning leg break and a few different things I think are really important if you want to be playing in those formats.
“It seems to be going in the right direction for me, so I’ll leave it up to the selectors from here.”
Left out of the Australian XI for the final two ODIs against New Zealand in March, Beams headed to the UK determined to do everything in her power to reclaim her spot at the World Cup.
With four high-quality spinners vying for three slow-bowling berths, the selectors’ decision was ultimately made for them when fellow leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington injured her finger in a warm-up match and was ruled out of the tournament opener.
The door opened for Beams and she seized the opportunity, playing all but one game and capturing 12 wickets at 22.16 to be Australia’s highest wicket taker and third overall.
“I genuinely did feel like I wasn’t in the best XI at that time,” Beams said. “So for me, it was about going over (to the World Cup) and being as best prepared as I could be, so there were no regrets at the end of it.
“I felt like, at 32 years old, I’m not going to get another opportunity at a World Cup so I didn’t want to leave anything in the tank and just wanted to go over and do everything I could.
“I can’t control whether I get selected or not. It’s unfortunate for Wellington that she got injured, and had she not been injured I maybe wouldn’t have played.
“It’s always disappointing when it’s a negative for someone else but it did allow me to come in. And once I was in there, I wanted to hang on for dear life and play my best cricket for the team.”
Beams collected multiple wickets in four of her seven World Cup matches, including her tournament best of 3-23 against Pakistan in Leicester.
Against England, she took 2-44, including the crucial wickets of captain Heather Knight and star wicketkeeper-batter Sarah Taylor.
“I just thought, I’m going to pull out all the stops here and just try and bring the best version of me, be aggressive and try and play a role for the team,” she said.
“I just wanted to do my job and be a part of it.
“With such a great team it’s always going to be difficult to be part of the starting XI.”
That gritty determination will hopefully serve both Australia and Beams well when the Women’s Ashes get underway at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field on October 22.
Coach Matthew Mott has hinted at possible changes to the team structure after Australia were ousted in the World Cup semi-finals, meaning there will be plenty on the line for Ashes hopefuls when the opening round of the Women’s National Cricket League begins this Friday.
New Victoria captain Beams – who is filling in for the injured Meg Lanning – is again resolute that she will leave nothing on the park.
“You’re always nervous leading in, to knowing whether you’re going to get yourself a spot in an Ashes team,” she said.
“I’d love to be a part of it, I’d love to play against England. They’re our number one rival and everyone wants to be a part of it.
“I think as a leg-spinner it’d be such a compliment to be able to play all three formats.
“You’ve got to keep changing your game and being flexible.”
Having made her Test debut in Australia’s last red-ball outing against England in the 2015 Ashes, Beams is dearly hoping to press her case to be part of the first-ever Ashes day-night Test at North Sydney Oval on November 9.
“I can’t believe I’ve got (a Baggy Green) and I still pinch myself every day that I’ve had the opportunity to play in an Ashes Test,” she said.
“To do that twice, given how little we play Tests, would be something so special. No one wants to be a one-hit wonder.”
Whatever happens in the Ashes, Beams is certain of one thing.
“I won’t have any regrets,” she said.
“I’ve done everything I can to best prepare to play in an Ashes series and now I’ll leave it up to the selectors.”
Tickets to the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes matches in Coffs Harbour, Sydney and Canberra are still available for just $10 for adults and $5 for concessions*, while kids can get in for free^.
Each match of the series will also support a nominated charity or the local cricket community, with two dollars from each adult and concession ticket being donated. Details on how to buy tickets are available at www.cricket.com.au/tickets.
*At match price. $2.95 per transaction ticket agency fee applies to purchases elsewhere.
^ Kids 15 years and under at date of match. Kids will still need a valid match ticket. Book free kids’ tickets with yours.
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes
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