With England’s men having retained the urn after just three tests, it’s now the turn of the women’s side to claim the bragging rights against the Aussies. The Women’s Ashes gets underway tomorrow with the test match at Wormsley, before three ODIs and three T20 clashes before the end of the month, and here are a few predictions as England attempt to regain the Ashes in this new format.
Top Wicket Taker Katherine Brunt
Amongst a side that includes bowlers on debut, Brunt’s position as lead wicket taker in the series should surely remain unchallenged. With a fire and drive unmatched, Katherine Brunt’s natural ability with the ball cannot be ignored. Across her career as an international player, Brunt’s wicket taking strike rate against Australia across ODI’s and T20’s is an impressive 39.62 and 17.25 respectively.
Australia’s only threat Ellyse Perry returns to the game following surgery, whilst Brunt comes into the series following a successful season with Yorkshire. Brunt remains one of the quickest bowlers in the women’s game.
Top Run Scorer Alex Blackwell
Producing an astronomical average in Australia’s domestic cricket competition, Alex Blackwell (92.80 average) will surely be the focal point of Australia batting during the off season. In a side that suffers from batting collapses, having Blackwell to steer the innings will steady any ship. Making her international debut in 2008 and with a season as overseas player at Berkshire in 2008, Blackwell’s experience speaks volumes of her ability to rise to the challenge and not falter under pressure. If the series is close, players such as Blackwell will make all the difference.
However, a close second is England’s Heather Knight. Making her test, but not international, debut during a season as the leading run scorer in Div 1 of the Women’s County Championship, Knight is in great form. As long as the pressure is not too much, Knight’s superb season of 604 runs in eight innings at an average of 100.67 should long continue.
Key Player Sarah Taylor
Taylor has set a precedent in the women’s game, both as an exciting powerhouse of batting and as an ever-dependable keeper. Playing across all three formats, Taylor has the ability to take a game away from the opposition, showing consistency and adaptability in both disciplines. As one of England’s leading run scorers, Taylor is a great crafter of an innings. Her further capabilities as a wicket keeper rival her with many of her male counterparts.
It’s clear to see that the inclusion of Sarah Taylor in any side brings not only a cricketer and an athlete into the game, but a wealth of cricketing knowledge. She also has the makings of a future captain which further makes Taylor invaluable to any side.
England: Charlotte Edwards (Kent)(captain), Tammy Beaumont (Kent), Arran Brindle (Sussex), Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire), Holly Colvin (Sussex) (ODI & T20 only), Natasha Farrant (Kent)(T20 only), Lydia Greenway (Kent), Jenny Gunn (Nottinghamshire), Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire), Heather Knight (Berkshire), Laura Marsh (Kent), Natalie Sciver (Surrey) (Test match & T20 only), Anya Shrubsole (Somerset), Sarah Taylor (Sussex), Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire), Danielle Wyatt (Nottinghamshire).
Australia: Jodie Fields (Captain), Alex Blackwell (Vice Captain), Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Sarah Elliott (Test match only), Holly Ferling, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Julie Hunter, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani.