Women’s Ashes: the twilight zone Test that could swing the series

first_img While Australia have the inspirational memory of Dive, England will be looking to emulate Jan Brittin, one of the game’s greats and the Ashes’ highest ever runs scorer. Brittin passed away just over a month ago and is one of the pioneers that played the game with grace, skill and determination. England will want their top order to show exactly that and channel Brittin’s 1998 Ashes series where she compiled scores of 146,59 not out, 167, 72 and six against what Charlotte Edwards described as “the best bowling attack she ever faced”. Heather Knight can be that player, coming off excellent one-day form. So too can Sarah Taylor, however she is yet to score a half century in the Test arena in 15 innings. England should feel reasonably confident in the run scoring department – their greatest concern will be their wicket taking ability. The fact that England were only picking up an Australian wicket every 42.6 balls in the ODI series is cause for concern.With that in mind, Australia will take to the North Sydney Oval and try to embrace the swashbuckling flair of Dive with the bat – she once scored 210 in 180 minutes against England in 1951 – but at some point over the four days, how the hosts can take 20 English wickets and pick up all four points is likely to become a focal point. 17 November, North Sydney19 November, Canberra21 November, Canberra Share on Messenger Read more Share on Facebook features Read more Share on Twitter … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Quick guide Women’s Ashes points system 9 November, North Sydney – match drawn, points shared Thank you for your feedback. Share on Pinterest Twenty20 matches (two points for a win) Reuse this content Share via Email With the spirit of Dive watching on, the four-day match starting on Thursday will be the first Ashes Test, men’s or women’s, to use a pink ball and a world first for the women’s game. That it comes at a pivotal point of the series only adds to the sense of occasion – Australia head into the game holding a slim 4-2 points lead but with four more on offer, victory will ensure the Ashes trophy stays on home soil. An England win or draw and the series will be decided in the mayhem of the unpredictable T20 formats.The debut of the pink ball, and the new day-night element adds a degree of unpredictability in this match too. Whether it’s the experienced and battle-hardened Alex Blackwell with 11 Tests to her name or a fresh-faced debutant who has hardly played over two days let alone four, the pink ball will offer players plenty of questions. The last two Ashes Tests have produced results, with England winning one of the most entertaining matches in Test history in Perth in 2013 and Australia dominating the 2015 encounter. Both teams have world class match winners and a clear mandate to be as attacking and aggressive when the game allows it to be – or more ideally, when they force it that way. Then there is the twilight zone: the time of day when artificial light takes over and the pink ball is said to swing more than usual, should the elements align. And with 20 wickets needed for a win, this is the moment that could become the focal point of the match.But there’s another by-product of the pink ball that could play a role for both bat and ball: when it doesn’t do much. Unlike red and white balls, the pink one loses its hardness and wears a lot quicker. The faster reduction in lacquer, hardness and seam presentation means less movement for bowlers and a greater skill set required to get through the batters’ defences. Bowling units will need to find ways of not just restricting runs but also taking wickets on a batting-friendly wicket. Batters will require a balance of attack and defence, patience and aggression. Women’s cricket Since you’re here… Four-day Test match (four points for the win) 22 October, Brisbane – Australia won by two wickets 26 October, Coffs Harbour – Australia won by 75 runs (DLS method)29 October, Coffs Harbour – England won by 20 runs Support The Guardian Australia sport Topics Hide England women’s cricket team Cricket England revive Ashes campaign with maiden win over Australia Australia women’s cricket team Share on WhatsApp One-day internationals (two points for a win) Was this helpful? The Mollie Dive Stand could not be a more appropriate backdrop for this week’s historic day-night Test match that could determine the destination of the women’s Ashes trophy. At North Sydney Oval, one of Australia’s oldest cricket grounds where white picket fence sit among grassed hills and heritage listed buildings, it’s both fitting and rare that one of the stands should be named after a female player.Dive is hardly known in cricket or sporting arenas but holds numerous and envious records. She captained Australia in her very first Test in 1948 and went on to become Australia’s first Ashes-winning captain in 1948-49. A PLC Pymble student, like Ellyse Perry, Dive studied botany and mathematics – a fact not lost at North Sydney where her stand faces the majestic century-old fig tree at one end and the equally aged manual scoreboard at the other. Sign up to the Spin – our weekly cricket round-up Share on LinkedIn Show Women’s Asheslast_img

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