Australia A v England A T20s - Women's
Australia A returns, no expansion for WNCL in 21-22
Australia A to take on England A alongside the multi-format Ashes, while the domestic one-day schedule has also been confirmed
21 July 2021, 02:00 PM AEST
Australia hopefuls will get the chance to press their cases for selection with the return of women’s Australia A matches this summer, but state players hoping for an expansion of the domestic 50-over tournament will have to wait.
Cricket Australia has confirmed the 29-game schedule for the Women’s National Cricket League for 2021-22, with each team to again play eight matches before the top two ranked sides meet in the final.
And as reported by cricket.com.au in February, England A will accompany the senior England side to Australia early next year for an A series that will run alongside the multi-format Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes. It will be the first time the women's A side has played since a 2019 series against India, with 2020 tour plans scrapped due to COVID19.
That schedule features three T20Is, all to be played at Canberra’s Phillip Oval between January 26-30, and three 50-over games in Sydney (February 5) and at Adelaide’s Karen Rolton Oval (February 8 and 10).
It follows a similar series staged in England in 2019, which saw Australia A travel to the UK alongside Australia’s Ashes squad.
The WNCL season is scheduled to begin on September 23 with the first round to be played in Adelaide and Sydney, while the remaining games will be held in three separate blocks in December, January and February ahead of the final on March 6.
It is a continuation of the status quo, despite state players and coaches lobbying for the WNCL to return to a full home-and-away season, something that has not been the case since the state T20 competition was introduced a decade ago.
Currently, the female and male state one-day competitions are similarly structured where each team plays the other at least once, with the WNCL featuring more games due to it having an additional team, the ACT Meteors.
However, with no women's multi-day cricket, the country’s female domestic players – who achieved semi-professional status in the most recent pay deal in 2017 – train from June-April for a maximum of just nine matches for their state per season.
Peter Roach, Cricket Australia’s Head of Operations, told cricket.com.au that an expansion of the WNCL remains on CA’s radar, but this season was a matter of balancing the domestic calendar with the busiest international season for Australia’s women’s team in recent memory.
"This would have been a strange year to start (an expansion) when we’ve got so much international cricket and the challenge is to try and allow our international players to play as much of that as possible," Roach said.
"As we continue to grow the depth in the competition, at the moment there is a fair difference when international players play and when they don’t, so we try and ensure they play at least half the games as the bare minimum.
"That was a challenge this year with the schedule we’ve got.
"It’s certainly on the radar for the future to make sure our growing depth and talent is playing enough games to prepare them for international cricket … whether that means 10 games (in future) or a different option, those are things we’re looking at."
As it stands, Australia squad members should be available for four of the eight matches that each state will play.
They will miss the opening round due to the Commonwealth Bank series against India and the final round due to Ashes. In addition, for the third consecutive season, internationals will also be unavailable for the final due to the ODI World Cup in New Zealand, which immediately follows the Ashes.
"(Playing in early September) was on the radar until the recent challenges of COVID in NSW especially," Roach said.
"But we’ve got a couple of good slots in December and January leading into the Ashes series, which is a terrific build-up for that and both preparation for current players and an opportunity for fringe players to push their names forward.
"They won’t be around for the last round and final, which is disappointing but unavoidable."
While Australia’s squad will not have WNCL matches under their belt before taking on India, Roach confirmed plans for a national camp are underway, which could include intra-squad warm-up matches.
India will take on an Australian XI on September 17, two days before the first ODI on September 19.
Currently, there are no warm-up matches scheduled for either England or Australia ahead of the one-off Ashes Test starting January 27 at Manuka Oval, but Roach indicated games would likely be added to the schedule. For England, that is likely to be intra-squad matches conducted during their quarantine period.
Roach also addressed calls from national leaders Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes for multi-day cricket to be included in the domestic schedule to better prepare players for Test cricket. While Australia’s women have only been playing one Test every two years across the last decade, they will have two this summer following India’s renewed interest in the format.
"It’s on the radar but there’s multiple ways you can prepare players for international cricket," he said.
"There’s a discussion to be had around it if Test cricket in the women’s game grows and countries start committing to it. At the moment there’s a few, but if it becomes a regular set up on the calendar then they’ll be discussions that we have."
Women’s tour matches
Sep 17: Australian XI v India, Hurstville Oval (50-over)
Jan 26: Australia A v England A, Phillip Oval (T20)
Jan 28: Australia A v England A, Phillip Oval (T20)
Jan 30: Australia A v England A, Phillip Oval (T20)
Feb 5: Australia A v England A, Drummoyne Oval (50-over)
Feb 8: Australia A v England A, Karen Rolton Oval (50-over)
Feb 10: Australia A v England A, Karen Rolton Oval (50-over)
2021-22 Women's International Season
Commonwealth Bank Women's Series v India
Sep 19: First ODI, North Sydney Oval (D/N)
Sep 22: Second ODI, Junction Oval
Sep 24: Third ODI, Junction Oval
Sep 30 – Oct 3: Test match, WACA Ground (D/N)
Oct 7: First T20, North Sydney Oval
Oct 9: Second T20, North Sydney Oval
Oct 11: Third T20, North Sydney Oval
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes v England
Jan 27-30: Test match, Manuka Oval
Feb 4: First T20, North Sydney Oval
Feb 6: Second T20, North Sydney Oval
Feb 10: Third T20, Adelaide Oval
Feb 13: First ODI, Adelaide Oval
Feb 16: Second ODI, Junction Oval
Feb 19: Third ODI, Junction Oval