Last week when James Sutherland announced the significant boost financially for female cricketers in Australia, lost in the media coverage was the Ashes squad that was also announced.
Unlike Michael Clarke’s squad, the media weren’t scrutinising every selection, talking about who just missed out and how the team would go in retaining the Ashes. Don’t get me wrong, it was great coverage for what could be a watershed moment for the women’s game, but discussion about the Ashes squad was almost an afterthought.
Therefore I thought that I might spend some time dissecting the squad and give my thoughts on which individuals might perform well in English conditions. Below is the squad that was selected:
Name State Age
Jodie Fields (c) QLD 28
Alex Blackwell (vc) NSW 29
Jess Cameron VIC 23
Sarah Coyte NSW 22
Sarah Elliott VIC 31
Holly Ferling QLD 17
Rachael Haynes NSW 26
Alyssa Healy NSW 23
Julie Hunter VIC 29
Jess Jonassen QLD 20
Meg Lanning VIC 21
Erin Osborne NSW 23
Ellyse Perry NSW 22
Megan Schutt SA 20
Elyse Villani VIC 23
With the success of the Southern Stars over the last summer, claiming both the T20 World Cup and 50-over World Cup, there was no surprise to see mostly the same girls selected for the Ashes squad.
The only changes are myself and Renee Chappell, who recently retired to focus on her career. I wonder, had she known about the new contract structure, whether she would have played on for another few seasons.
The two new inclusions from the recent 50-over World Cup squad are Jessica Jonassen and Sarah Elliott for the Test squad only.
Many of you may recall that Jessica had a wonderful T20 World Cup campaign in Sri Lanka, playing a key role in the final against England.
Unfortunately she missed the 50-over World Cup due to having knee surgery a few months prior to the team departing. As a young left-arm orthodox spinner this Ashes campaign will not only give her the opportunity to prove again that she belongs at this level, but cement her spot in the first XI for years to come.
The other inclusion is something of a surprise, as Sarah Elliott’s last game for Australia was actually the last Test match played at Bankstown oval in January 2011 where she made an unbeaten 81 to help Australia regain the Ashes. Since then she has had some time away from the game due to injury and also giving birth to her first child, Samuel.
Sarah’s inclusion for the Test only squad seems to be due to the selectors wanting to call on some experienced players during that period.
If you look at the ages of the players in the squad without Sarah in the team there are only four players over the age of 25 and none over the age of 30. This is combined with the squad having very little experience in the longer format.
I am sure the fact that Sarah has the ability to bat for long periods of time swayed the selectors in her favour.
One does have to feel sorry for Nicole Bolton, Western Australia’s captain and opening batter. Nicole had a great season in the both the domestic competitions (WNCL and WT20), by amassing over 600 runs in both formats and averaging a respectable 45.38 in WNCL and 31.56 in WT20. She also won WNCL player of the year (joint winner with Meg Lanning).
An immediate challenge for Nicole is that the Southern Stars currently have a number of openers already in the squad such as Haynes, Lanning and Villani. Nicole may have to bat in the middle order for Western Australia to show the selectors that she is versatile and can slot in there if required.
So what can we expect from the all-conquering Southern Stars in the crucial Test match?
The style of play from the Southern Stars is attacking, and the likes of Lanning and Cameron won’t necessarily change their game for a Test format. Either they will put Australia in a winning position by batting the Poms out of the game or they will fail, but as 21 and 23 years olds that is what you expect.
If Lanning and Cameron don’t fire, we can still look to Haynes (who scored a 98 on her Test debut), Fields (who has scored a Test century) and Blackwell (who is the most experienced player in the Test squad) to deliver match-winning batting performance.
And in a statement that might shock some, although Ellyse Perry is seen widely as the fastest bowler in the women’s game, she can also bat extremely well. I believe she is the only player in the squad that mentally trains to bat for long periods of time, thanks all to her Dad for throwing millions of balls to her each week.
Given the opportunity, Ellyse has the ability and the patience to post a large score. It will depend on where she bats in the order and the situation of the game, but she could add a Test century to her amazing career.
The bowling prospects will be led by Ellyse, but as she is returning from injury her workload must be managed to get through the Test, three ODIs and three T20s as they all count to the Ashes trophy.
Holly Ferling is set to make her Test debut and with Ellyse will form a wonderful pace attack.
Julie Hunter is a genuine swing bowler and with conditions at Wormsley expected to assist swing she will be a key in minimising the runs and allowing the other two to steam in and get under the Pom’s feathers.
As for the spin factor, the spearhead in this skill will be making their Test debut as neither Erin Osborne nor Jonassen have played a Test. With the inclusion of Sarah Eillott, also a decent off spinner, one of the two will make their debut and bowl plenty of overs!
If our top order can survive the swinging ball from Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole then we will go a long way to winning the Test match, but the joy of a Test match being played over four days means that there will be plenty of ebbs and flows during the match.