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Women’s Ashes: Australia And England Resume Test Rivalry at Spin-Friendly Taunton

Cricketnext Staff |July 18, 2019, 8:09 AM IST
Women’s Ashes: Australia And England Resume Test Rivalry at Spin-Friendly Taunton

The Australian and English women’s Test team will kick off the women’s Ashes one-off Test at Taunton on Thursday (July 18), banking on spin on a used track. Both sides took a close look at the pitch on the ground also known as the ‘Ciderabad’ because of it’s affinity to region’s favourite tipple and a spin-friendly 22 yards similar to those in India.

The pitch for the four-day this women’s Test is not a fresh one; it was last played on during the men’s World Cup on June 8, but visible marks are there on a dry surface, according to cricket.com.au.

Since that match between New Zealand and Afghanistan, the ground has hosted two more World Cup games and two four-day county ties as well, the most recent of which saw 24 wickets fall to spin.

"It would be great to see a result in this Test match and I think there will be one," Australia captain Meg Lanning said on Wednesday (July 17), ahead of Australia’s final training session.

"It’s a used wicket so there’s the potential it could turn later in the Test, which is pretty exciting with both sides going out there to win. I think it will be a great contest,” Lanning was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

Australia could field as many as four spinners in their XI, with left-armers Jess Jonassen and Sophie Molineux, off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner and leg-spinner Georgia Wareham all believed to be in the running for a spot.

For England, they could call on two left-arm spinners in Sophie Ecclestone and the uncapped Kirstie Gordon, while off-spinner Laura Marsh is also vying for selection.

"It looks a little bit dry,” England skipper Heather Knight felt. “I think it will generally play okay to start with, but we’ll have to see how it adapts as the game goes on.

"Kirstie’s done very well in the warm-up game against the Australians and it’s put her in contention. We’ll make a final decision (later) and that’ll be announced at the toss."

While England need a win to stay in the series, Australia are equally keen for a victory — and to play an exciting brand of cricket throughout the Test match — with both teams acknowledging a good spectacle will enhance the argument for women’s Tests being played more frequently.

The past two Tests, both played as part of the seven-game multi-format Ashes, were held on dull, slow pitches in Canterbury and North Sydney and while the former produced a result and the latter enabled Ellyse Perry to showcase her batting skills in a memorable unbeaten double-century, neither were conducive to attacking cricket.

"We obviously need a result, so we want a pitch that will be conducive to that," Knight said. "I think the last few pitches we’ve played (Tests) on have been very flat and slow, which haven’t been great for the spectacle and haven’t been great in terms of creating exciting cricket to watch and creating results.

"I think it will be slightly different to that. We’ll obviously have to see how it plays and as a team we’ll have to adapt in terms of how we play our cricket,” the England captain added.

Lanning was also confident this week’s match will be a different story.

"The last few Test matches haven’t been as good a contest as they could have been, but no doubt this game will be very different," Lanning said.

"We’re happy playing whatever comes our way, I think it will be a really good contest and it will play reasonably well early on, it’s just towards the back end we’ll just have to see how it goes,” she added.

Another uncontrollable factor standing between England and the win they need could be the weather in Taunton, with rain forecast for days two and three of the four-day fixture.

Australia hold a 6-0 lead in the series after sweeping the three ODIs and need just eight points in total to retain the trophy. It means a draw in the Test, worth four points for a win and two for a draw, will be enough to dash England’s hopes of regaining the Ashes trophy.​

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