Women's Ashes Test
Australia face tough calls for sole Ashes Test
Australia coach Matthew Mott acknowledges the difficult task facing the selectors this week
Laura Jolly in Marlborough
14 July 2019, 11:13 AM AEST
Australia’s XI for the sole Test of the multi-format women’s Ashes promises to be the "toughest team" picked in some time, coach Matthew Mott says.
The tourists wrapped up an emphatic 240-run win over an England Academy team – a virtual second England XI – at Marlborough College on Saturday.
And while the top six batters are seemingly locked in, the battle between the allrounders and bowlers promises to cause plenty of headaches for selectors in the coming days.
Experienced left-arm spinning allrounder Jess Jonassen and spearhead Megan Schutt seem locks for the side, but among those in the running to join them are Sophie Molineux, another left-arm tweaker/allrounder, Ashleigh Gardner, whose off-spin accompanies her hard-hitting abilities with the bat, and leg-spinner Georgia Wareham.
Vying for a place as a third quick alongside Schutt and Ellyse Perry are Tayla Vlaeminck, Nicola Carey and Delissa Kimmince.
All six players have yet to make their Test debuts and now face an anxious wait to see if they’ll earn a Baggy Green in the Test at Taunton beginning Thursday.
"It’s going to be incredibly tough," Mott said. "We’ve had a lot of conversation with the lot of different people the last few days and it’s going to be the hardest team we’ve picked in a while.
"Because it’s such a unique opportunity as well and there’s a lot at stake, there’s a lot of conversation around what our best balance is.
"We don’t really have anything to go by, the last Test we played was a couple of years ago, so it’s going to be a bit of a guessing game around what is our best team we can pick to win the Test."
Victorians Molineux and Vlaeminck made the strongest cases for selection in the three-day warm-up. Molineux hit unbeaten knocks of 65 and 33 at better than a run a ball, before taking 4-30 in the second innings.
Dynamic duo Tayla Vlaeminck and Georgia 🐺 Wareham with a quick recap of the warm-up game in Marlborough. Next stop: Taunton for the #Ashes Test! #WATCHME pic.twitter.com/zYu6gnniWu— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@SouthernStars) July 14, 2019
Vlaeminck – who at 20 is the fastest bowler in the Australian squad – produced several venomous spells to have the England Academy bowlers hopping around at the crease, taking 4-31 in the first innings and 1-19 in the second.
Mott believes the conditions at Taunton County Ground will aid the spinners, but Australia are expected to wait until the eve of the match – if not the morning of – to decide of their final XI.
"We’ll look to name a 12 pretty close to the Test match and make the final decision on the day," Mott said. "Our intel says it’s going to spin and we noticed in the County game the other day, the spinners took a lot of wickets in the back end.
"Somerset have had a lot of results there this summer as well, and (their side is) based around a pretty strong spin attack, but the quicks have taken some wickets as well.
"We’ll keep an open mind but we’ll know a lot more in a few days."
Overall, Mott was pleased with his squad’s preparations to date for the four-day Test, with almost every batter – barring skipper Meg Lanning, who was dismissed for 14 and 16 – spending valuable time in the middle.
"Our two century makers (Beth Mooney and Perry) played really well, but more so both innings we lost some wickets in clumps and both innings we played some smart cricket to get out of it," he said.
"We spoke to them about momentum in Test cricket and it can change really quickly, so just being aware of where we are at each stage of the game and adjusting accordingly.
"I think that’s one thing for a team that doesn’t play a lot of this format, we picked it up really quickly in this match and when we did make mistakes we rectified them really quickly.
"Everyone got a hit, obviously we’ve got a pretty hungry captain to get some runs … but I think the processes she went through in this three-day game were really good, so fingers crossed she’ll hit her straps at the right time."
Australia head to Taunton on Sunday where they’ll begin preparations for the sole Test of the seven-match, multi-format Ashes series, beginning July 18.
They already hold a 6-0 lead after sweeping the three-match ODI lead and England will need to win the Test – worth four points – and all three T20Is to prevent Australia retaining the Ashes.
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