Schutt swings into pink ball groove

Aussie seamer could be home side's key weapon after unplayable performance in day-night warm ups

Swing sensation Megan Schutt could be Australia's trump card in the pivotal day-night Ashes Test after wowing her teammates with the pink ball last week.

Schutt played the dual roles of opening bowler and magician in Australia's three-day twilight practice match in Canberra as she hooped the new pink ball around corners and into the woodwork of three perplexed batters.

With her ninth ball under Manuka Oval's beaming floodlights, the right-armer devastatingly swung a ball from well outside off stump in to the exposed stumps of ACT opener Katie Mack, who had shouldered arms believing the ball would sail safely through to the wicketkeeper.

In ACT's second innings, this time while the sun was still the dominant source of light, Schutt uprooted Mack's middle stump with another vicious in-swinger.

And to cap off a remarkable trio of dismissals, six overs later Schutt curved another delivery into the pads of state and national teammate Tahlia McGrath, who was beaten whipping to the leg side and was castled.


What about these deliveries from @megan_schutt3?! 😲 #WomensAshes

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Schutt was the leading wicket-taker in the three-match one-day international series that formed the first leg of the multi-format Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes.

Her 10 wickets cost 11.4 runs apiece and played a big hand in Australia winning two out of three matches to take a two-point lead into the sole Test match where victory would see the hosts retain the trophy.

"Megan Schutt has just carried on where she left off in the one-dayers," Australia teammate Nicole Bolton said today.

"I was fielding at mid-on and was watching her bowling people from outside off hitting middle-stump.

"When you're seeing that you're pretty excited, and as a batter you're going 'Jeez, I'm lucky I'm not facing that'."

Australia allrounder and new-ball partner Ellyse Perry puts Schutt's recent success down to the hard work done off the field following Australia's semi-final exit from the Women's World Cup in July.

Schutt claimed 10 wickets at 30 runs each in the World Cup – six more runs than her career average of 24 – but Perry says the swing she's famous for has returned.

"She came on to the scene and played really well when she first made it into the Australian team," Perry said.

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"Like any cricketer you go through ups and downs in terms of form.

"She's been pretty consistent but what I think she's really got back in the past couple of months is her swing.

"She's worked pretty hard on that to make sure that she's been consistently moving the ball because she's quite prodigious in that aspect and it's a real weapon for her. 

"Looking at the some of the wickets she took in Canberra over the weekend there was some really great deliveries there that moved a lot."

Schutt, who describes herself as a medium bowler not a fast bowler, relies on her swing and accuracy to take wickets as opposed to blasting batters out with raw speed.

Perry is the fastest quick in the Australia squad and is bowling as fast as she has ever done, according to her teammates who have had to face her in the nets and field behind the stumps out on the field.

The 26-year-old worked with former England fast bowler Matthew Hoggard this winter and along with Australia assistant coach Joe Dawes has increased her speed and found more consistent shape in the air away from the right-handers.

But Perry says genuine fast bowling is one area in the women's game that he been left behind as batters refine techniques and add strokes, while spinners have become the most effective bowlers in limited-overs cricket.

She says Australia's pace stocks have improved after a "pretty disappointing" World Cup, and a bowler like teenage left-arm quick Lauren Cheatle has the attributes to one day be in the top echelon of fast bowlers in the world.

"There will be someone who comes along soon that cracks that 120kph-mark consistently," Perry said.

"At the moment anything above 115kph is considered quite fast for the women's game.

"It will be really interesting in the future.

"Lauren (Cheatle) is someone who is very much capable of it considering she's only (19) and still got lots of growing and developing to do.

"That would be really cool to see and its definitely possible, I don't know how long it will take though."

Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes

Australia lead England 4-2

Australia squad (ODI and Test): Rachael Haynes (C), Alex Blackwell (VC), Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa (Test only), Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.

England squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Laura Marsh, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Nat Sciver, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.


First ODI Australia won by two wickets

Second ODI Australia won by 75 runs (DLS method)

Third ODI England won by 20 runs (DLS method)

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