Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars coach Matthew Mott says his team is well aware of the areas that need improvement as the world champions look toward next year's World Cup in England.
Australia wrapped up a four-nil one-day international series win over South Africa on Tuesday, but Mott believes the score line doesn't reflect the competitiveness of the five-match series, with two nail-biting finishes and strong performances from the sixth-ranked Proteas.
"I think it was an excellent series, four-nil didn't do justice to how close it was," Mott told cricket.com.au.
"We obviously had a tie in there and a win on the second-last ball, it was a hard-fought series and South Africa were very good opposition.
"Overall it was a good performance from us but we've still got plenty of work to do.
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"We're well aware of where we need to improve over the long term.
"Our spin options were very effective but I think our pace bowlers have got some work to do, especially at the front end of the innings.
"The batting across the board was good, but I think we've still got another gear and hopefully we'll drag that out over the next 12 months."
Spinners Jess Jonassen, Grace Harris, Kristen Beams and debutant Amanda Wellington were outstanding against the Proteas.
Jonassen took the new ball in four of the five ODIs, while Harris and first Beams, then Wellington, reigned in the South African run rate through the middle overs, with 17 Proteas wickets falling to spin throughout the series.
However, the Australia's pace attack didn't manage to have the same impact, with allrounder Ellyse Perry was the best of the bunch with seven wickets at 22.57, while Rene Farrell, Megan Schutt and Holly Ferling picked up just three wickets between them.
"I think it's just a matter of consistency.
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"We're not executing the right areas often enough. (Bowling coach) Joe Dawes has spoken a lot about being more relentless in the areas we hit and bashing the wicket on off-stump.
"We just gave them too much width in this series and allowed them to throw their arms and get a lot of runs through the off side.
"So it's just about tightening up those a little bit.
"We're looking at bowleds and lbws as the key to us taking those early wickets we want.
"A lot of teams will target us at the start because they know how effective our spinners are, so it's important we get that part of it right."
Ferling was left out of the squad for the final two matches of the series, having bowled just 5.2 wicket-less overs across the first two ODIs in Canberra, but Mott is backing the 20-year-old to fight her way back into the team.
"That's really important from our perspective that Holly gets back to that consistency she's been striving for," he said.
"She's trained the house down and there's not much more we can ask of her as a player.
"She puts in at training and does all the right things at recovery and with her strength training, so it's just the last piece jigsaw, that consistency to hit those hard lengths more often.
"She's showed glimpses of what we'd love to see from her but by her own admission she hasn’t been as consistent as she would have liked."
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Ferling, alongside seven of her Australian teammates, will be back in action on Saturday when Konica Minolta Queensland Fire and the Lendlease NSW Breakers play off in the 50-over Women's National Cricket League final at AB Field.
That game and the upcoming Rebel Women's Big Bash League will be watched closely by Mott and his fellow Australian selectors, with a three-game T20 series to be played against New Zealand in February before a return ODI series across the Tasman the same month.
Those matches will be Australia’s last official series before the 50-over World Cup in England in June, although the Southern Stars will spend several weeks at a training camp in Hampshire and will take on the White Ferns in a warm-up game before the start of the tournament.
"This weekend will be a good chance for all the selectors get together and talk about the players who've done well and who we've got an eye on," Mott added.
"During the WBBL I'll be in more of a selector capacity, getting around and spending time talking to state and WBBL coaches about their players.
"It's a big building phase heading into this New Zealand series."
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