England Women will be looking to succeed where the men’s team failed and end their Ashes losing streak when the showpiece competition gets underway tomorrow in Adelaide.
England last won the Ashes in 2013-14, when they beat the Southern Stars 10-8 in Australia. In the three subsequent series they have failed to regain the coveted trophy, losing twice and drawing once.
Since the 2013 series in England, the women’s Ashes has been contested across all three main international disciplines – Tests, one-day and Twenty20 matches – and used a points system to determine the winner.
The result? A crushing 12-4 win for Australia last time out in 2019, when England drew the Test and won just one of the T20s.
If that all sounds gloomy for Heather Knight’s side, they can take heart from a statistical quirk that appears to favour the away team.
Since the points system came in, Australia have never won a series at home, only managing a draw in 2017-18. While England have won and drawn Down Under, meanwhile, they have lost their last two at home.
Unlike the men’s Ashes, where it is easier to win at home, the women’s game is more unpredictable. With that comes a golden opportunity for England to break their losing streak and win on Aussie soil.
“We’ll try not to think too much about the past Ashes and just think about the match-ups for this one,” said batter Tammy Beaumont.
“They’ve had a few big players lost through injury and we’re fighting fit and raring to go.
“I think it’s a case of taking our cricket to them, going toe-to-toe with them and competing to put them under pressure.”
Having begun their tour under strict Covid-19 protocols, England are now enjoying a relaxing of rules within their camp, with players now allowed to dine together.
It has come just in time for Thursday’s first of three T20s, which is followed by a solitary four-day Test and three one-dayers.
As ever, a Test win is worth four points and a draw two, with points halved for the limited-overs matches.
“I think everyone is feeling a little bit calm, whereas last week everyone was frustrated with the rules we have had to adhere to,” vice-captain Nat Sciver said this week.
“There was a change of rules we were able to agree on and the medical staff were happy for us to operate with. We can be a bit more together now.”
The schedule, too, is key to any series. With the three T20s played first, one team could take a six-point lead into the Test match, where a draw would be enough to win the Ashes.
“We’ve been a very good T20 unit for a number of years now and it’s a formula we just slip back into,” Beaumont added.
Australia have been dealt a blow before opening their Ashes defence after their world No1-ranked batter Beth Mooney was ruled out of the series with a fractured jaw suffered when she was struck by a bouncer in training.
The hosts are also without star spinners Georgia Wareham and Sophie Molineux, major blows for the Southern Stars.
Tomorrow England’s women get their Ashes series started, knowing how important an early lead can be. But in a series where the overall scoreboard can flip within a day’s play, you cannot take any over for granted. Every ball counts.
“T20 cricket always brings the team closer together,” said Beaumont. “It only takes that one individual to change a game so I think it’s really exciting to start with that format and really give it a good crack.”