The Ashes of a slightly different kind #cricket #ashes @TheRoarSports

As Michael Clarke’s men face up against Alastair Cook’s, another Ashes clash will take place in England. The difference is we already hold the silverware.

Whom or what might it be? The Southern Stars? Yes – you are correct!

The very successful Southern Stars will do battle with our traditional rivals, England, in their own Ashes battle in August over in England.

In conjunction with the English Cricket Board, Cricket Australia have agreed on a new format regarding the Women’s Ashes.

Before I go through the details of the new format I should give you some background regarding Test cricket for women.

Tests have been played between the two nations since 1934 and it was decided in 1998 that we too would create our own Ashes trophy.

Both teams at the time signed a bat which was later burned, with the Ashes placed into a wooden ball.

Playing in my first Ashes Series in 2001 I thought the wooden ball was a poorer cousin to the men’s Ashes – it simply didn’t have the tradition.

But I guess it was only three years old when I first laid eyes on it, maybe after 100 years it would hold more significance.

Over the years the Ashes played by women rose in prestige and, ironically in some ways, was placed on the cricketing map when we actually lost it in 2005.

It so happened to be the same year the English men regained their Ashes too, but for us though it had been 42 years since England held the advantage in the Test arena.

I still remember seeing on the TV both the English teams paraded around London on double decker buses celebrating their success. Not a great feeling from where I was sitting.

Although, credit to the ECB for celebrating the success of both their national teams together and with such fanfare.

After losing the Ashes in 2005 it became even harder to regain, as the subsequent Test series to be played between England and Australia (the only two nations that want to play Test cricket for women) went down to one Test per series.

When I made my debut with the Australian squad in 2001 there were three Tests in the series, allowing both teams a real chance of winning.

Unfortunately, over the following years it went down to two matches and before we knew it, it was one match.

Then, just to make it a little harder, we only played it over four days, making it extremely difficult for the team who is trying to win it back.

Thankfully in 2011 we were able to win back the Ashes at Bankstown Oval thanks largely to Rene Farrell, who managed to pick up a hat-trick in England’s second innings to finish with figures of 5/23 off 17 overs.

Before that we had decided to declare 49 runs behind England’s first innings total, a brave move by our coach at the time Richard McInnes, to give ourselves the best chance to bowl them out and chase down whatever they set.

Sarah Elliott (81*) and Alex Blackwell (74) combined well to guide us to victory by putting on 125 runs for the third wicket partnership.

Therefore when the announcement came out this week that the Ashes will be contested over all three formats my initial thought was why?!

We had spent seven years fighting hard to win the Ashes back and now we were making it easier for England to regain it, instead of seeing who the winner was after both teams fought hard over four days at Wormsley from 13th – 16th August.

Once my traditionalist heart had calmed down, I must say it does make sense.

About four years ago the Southern Stars Squad had an admin camp in Melbourne, where Belinda Clark spoke honestly about the state of cricket for women.

In order for us to not be seen as an expense to the national boards we needed to build our profile and the way forward was Twenty/20 cricket, as it allowed us to piggy back the men and have some of our matches broadcast due to the infrastructure being set up already for the men.

With the women’s Ashes, there isn’t necessarily the tradition that is set in stone like the men, thereby allowing us to be a little more innovative in today’s market.

Plus it is important to create our own brand moving forward, as there seems to be more interest surrounding the women’s game than ever before.

So what is the new Ashes? It will be decided across all three formats with weighted points allocated to each of the games.

The team accruing the most points after the Test match, three ODIs and three T20s will be declared the winner of the Women’s Ashes Series.

I have set out below the point allocation. If there is a draw at the end of the seven matches, Australia will retain the Ashes as they are the current holders.

Date

Format

Venue

Points for a Win

Points for a Draw

11-14 August     

Test 

Wormsley Cricket Ground, Buckinghamshire

6 points           

 2 points   

20 August            

ODI

Lord’s, London

2 points           

1 point

23 August           

ODI

The County Cricket Ground, Hove

2 points           

1 point

25 August            

ODI

The County Cricket Ground, Hove

2 points           

1 point

27 August           

T20I

The County Ground, Chelmsford

2 points          

1 point

29 August            

T20I *

The Rose Bowl, Southampton*

2 points           

1 point

31 August            

T20I *

The Riverside Ground, Durham*

2 points           

1 point

*Double-header with men’s T20 International (England v Australia)

Given we are tinkering with tradition, I really hope the new format will generate greater interest in the Women’s Ashes over the English and Australian summers this season.

No doubt it will be a hard-fought and highly entertaining contest with some of the best international players on show.

NOTE: I write a weekly article for The Roar sports website. This article also appears on The Roar website at www.roar.com.au

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