Lanning calls for format change

Stars lose the Ashes but run hot ahead of World Cup

They may have lost the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series but Southern Stars captain Meg Lanning says the Australians are full of confidence heading into next month’s T20 World Cup after finishing with back-to-back seven-wicket victories over England.

QUICK SINGLE: Stars finish on a high

The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars won four games to England’s three in the multi-format series, but missed out on the trophy because of the tourists’ victory in the solitary Test, which was worth six points compared to the two points earned for each of the six limited-overs matches.

Australia won two out of the three One-Day Internationals and did the same when the series moved to the T20 stage and Lanning called for the format to be tweaked to give ODIs more weighting in the next series, in 2015.

But regardless of the result, the Australian captain said the final two victories has given the squad the boost it needs as the Southern Stars attempt to win their third straight ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.

“It certainly gives us a lot of confidence,” said Lanning. “We’ve played some really good cricket over the last couple of games and we certainly wanted to get some momentum heading into Bangladesh.

“I’m not sure how much England will read into that but we’re certainly in a good frame of mind heading into Bangladesh now.”

Lanning has been in outstanding form in the three T20 matches and contributed a quick fire 23 runs of 20 balls after taking a stunning one-handed catch and causing a run out by throwing down the stumps, but admitted the final victories didn’t make up for the series loss.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet to be honest,” Lanning said. “Obviously we’re very disappointed that we didn’t win the Ashes that was our main goal for this series so we’re disappointed with that but on the flip side we wanted to finish well and I think we’ve done a really good job to bounce back and be able to win four of those games.

“It’s hard to sort of explain to be honest but we’re certainly proud of the way we came back over those last two games.”

But England captain Charlotte Edwards said injuries had played a big part in her side’s lacklustre finish, with strike bowlers Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt two of several players unable to finish the series.

“It’s been a huge headache for us,” Edwards said. “When you lose two world-class bowlers like Brunt and Shrubsole, that’s probably what’s made this achievement even more special, that we’ve been able to do it without our two frontline bowlers and arguably one of the best spinners in the world, Laura Marsh.

“So to come here and perform the way we have done is really pleasing for us as a squad.”

But Edwards admitted to being frustrated by the way the series finished.

“Every game we go out and play we want to play somewhere near our potential and we’ve not done that over the last two games,” Edwards sad. “It’s bitterly disappointing but the batters didn’t put enough runs on the board.

“Sitting here now it’s easy to think about the last two games but we’ve got to look back and think where the Ashes were won and be very proud of that, but yeah (it’s a) bit disappointing to end the series the way we have.”

Edwards has said throughout the series that she believes the format and weighting of games is fair, and denied that the fact Australia had won more matches in the series had taken the shine off England’s victory.

“Both teams knew what the format was and ultimately that Test win was the difference probably between the two teams,” said Edwards. “I said from the word go it’s going to be two evenly matched teams competing for it, and I think it showed.

“They’ve obviously ended the series well and I guess we won the key moments, which was the most important thing in this series.”

But Lanning said she hoped the points system would be reviewed.

“You could fix that by giving more points to the ODIs,” she said. “Perhaps two ODI victories is similar to a Test match win.

“I think for a Test match to be worth six points compared to the two is a lot, considering we don’t play many Test matches at all.

“It’s something to look into – I’m not sure what’s going to happen but I’m sure other people will take care of that.”

Australia chased down England’s modest total of 8-101 with nine balls remaining, opener Elyse Villani striking form with an unbeaten 36 runs to guide Australia home.

But much of the damage was done at the start of play, when a devastating opening spell from player of the match Rene Farrell left England reeling at 3-15.

“All the bowlers put the ball in the right areas today and again a fantastic team effort,” Farrell said. “We’ll be looking to keep working on those areas, and we’ve got National League and T20 finals coming up, so we’ll continue practicing and working.

“Some of us are going to Sri Lanka to get used to some of the conditions over there so hopefully we take that form into the T20 World Cup.”

Both squads will now focus on preparations for Bangladesh, where they will reignite the fierce rivalry that has marked the back-to-back Women’s Ashes campaigns, and both captains claimed their sides would take confidence out of the Australian summer.

“We know that you’ve got to play really good cricket throughout and we’re pretty confident we can do that,” said Lanning. “It’s going to be tough, there are a lot of good sides in there, but I really do think that we’re in a good positive frame of mind heading into Bangladesh now.”

“For both teams it’s been a fantastic series,” Edwards said. “I think it’s ebbed and flowed It’s probably one of the best series I’ve been involved in both home and away.

“You’ve all seen how evenly matched both teams are,” she said. “We’ve loved it.

“I think there’s a huge amount we can take out of it especially our younger players the way they’ve performed.

“Towards the back end they’ve got a bit tired, and obviously the whole event has probably got a bit much for them in the end, but they’ve got lots to be proud of and hopefully this kind of experience will stand us in good stead for what’s coming up.”