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England will bat first in the opening match of the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series at the WACA after winning the toss on a hot and sunny Perth morning.
With temperatures expected to reach 44 degrees tomorrow, baking the WACA deck, England captain Charlotte Edwards will expect her batters to post a big score on the opening day of the four-day Test.
The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars have made two changes to the side which played in the Test at Wormsley in August, opener Elyse Villani receiving her Baggy Green from WACA CEO and former Australian player Christine Matthews.
The big-hitting Villani was seen as something of a short form specialist and made just one appearance in the final T20 match in the last series, in which she was dismissed for a duck. But the Victorian’s stunning form in the domestic season for the Spirit has earned her a start in place of Rachael Haynes.
Rene Farrell is back in the Australian side after a three-year absence, replacing South Australian bowler Megan Schutt. This is Farrell’s third Test for Australia and completes a remarkable comeback from a string of injuries.
England have made two changes from the side that ground out a draw at Wormsley, Natalie Sciver and Kate Cross coming in for Tammy Beaumont and Laura Marsh, who, in that match, famously scored the second slowest 50 by an English player.
A much faster game is expected at the WACA, with Edwards and Southern Stars captain Jodie Fields both predicting a result. The stakes are high for this solitary Test match, the winner taking six points for a victory, while the remaining six limited-overs matches (three One-Day Internationals and three T20 matches) worth two points each.
Live Stream Details
One Ashes series may be over but another is just about to begin, and cricket fans across Australia, the UK and many other countries will be able to watch live from start to finish as the Southern Stars’ try to emulate the Aussie men and win back the Women’s Ashes trophy.
The video stream will also incorporate ABC Grandstand's radio commentary and will be available for free on both this website and Cricket Australia Live: The Official App.
The multi-format Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes series consists of one four-day Test, three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals with cumulative points deciding the winner.
The four-day Test, which kicks off at the WACA on January 10th, as well as the three ODIs, will all be live streamed on cricket.com.au, while the three T20 matches will be broadcast live by the Nine Network on GEM.
England Women hold the trophy after dominating the most recent series, held during the English summer. But the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars coach Cathryn Fitzpatrick believes home soil advantage will play a big part in the upcoming contest.
“The girls have spent all summer travelling around and experienced the conditions that we’re going to be playing,” said Fitzpatrick. “We’ve got teams that have played at the WACA, played down in Hobart, so of course it’s going to be an advantage.
“There are differences between the conditions that the two countries produce. “
The Australians struggled on the generally flat English pitches but Fitzpatrick said the players had worked hard individually on their games and, in contrast to the last series, they will go into the first Test at the WACA with virtually a full season of Women’s National Cricket League and Women’s T20 matches under their belts.
“I certainly think it’s an advantage having come off such a hard fought season - and that’s not to provide any sort of excuse for our performance in England – but certainly girls having played right around the country, playing in familiar conditions,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think it certainly is an advantage.
“We had the opportunity when we came back from England to identify some things that we needed to change.
“And going around the country and watching the girls play I can see that they’ve worked hard on and implemented (those things) into their game.”
The squad gathered in Perth on Saturday played a warm-up match against a boys’ side ahead of the first Test.
If the Southern Stars are successful they will hold the Women’s Ashes, the ICC Women’s T20 and 50-over World Cups simultaneously. But they will have to overcome a strong England side that lost just one match to Australia in the last series.
“It will be a tightly contested series,” said Fitzpatrick. “The teams are really close together.”
“When we were in England last time there were a few key moments that we were just unable to win, but hopefully we’ve done the work to be able to win those big moments and turn that result around.”