Chelmsford: There will be no praying for rain in the Southern Stars’ dressing room, despite the fact that a wash-out in Wednesday’s first Twenty20 against England in Chelmsford would give them an unassailable lead in the women’s Ashes.
The forecast is for heavy rain until the early afternoon, but that is due to have disappeared by the time the match starts at 7pm.
“We want to play. Obviously we’ve got the luxury of winning the Ashes if it’s a wash-out, but I’m sure you wouldn’t find one of the players who wants it that way,” Stars coach Matthew Mott said. “We want to get it with a win.”
Australia’s thrashing of England in the Test gave them an 8:2 points lead in the series. England’s best result would be to draw the series and triumph as the current Ashes holder, but that’s only possible if they win all three Twenty20s.
Since that Test win Australian have completed a three-match series in Ireland. They won all three matches but had to defend low totals in the first two, in trying conditions, before their batting clicked in the third match as they made 1-186. The total was just five runs short of the team record they set against the Irish at least year’s World Twenty20.
“It was very helpful to have the T20s. It would have been a lot more difficult to have gone straight into the England T20s after the Test,” Mott said.
That three-match series provided a debut for Grace Harris, a hard-hitting 21-year-old called into the squad for fellow Queensland all-rounder Delissa Kimmince, who was withdrawn due to a back injury.
“Obviously it was a big blow for us and for Delissa, because the Ashes is such a significant tour. But Grace has come in and done well. Getting player of the series on your debut is a pretty good effort,” he said.
Mott said the Stars players were eager to resume the series against England on Wednesday night in Chelmsford, because they had put themselves in a position where one win – or, admittedly, a wash-out – would seal their first away Ashes triumph since 2001.
“We didn’t get a chance to have a look at the [Chelmsford] pitch, because it was under covers, but in my experience it’s typically an ideal T20 batting wicket, very good for batting,” he said. “The girls are really excited to have got to this point. A lot of work has gone into it.”
England have added two players for the first time in the series: spinner Dani Hazell, whose exclusion from the one-dayers and Test was contentious, and all-rounder Danni Wyatt. Both will be familiar to the Stars’ players.
“We’ve got a bit of experience against both of them, but so far in the series we’ve worried a lot more about us than about them and we’re not going to change that,” Mott said. “We couldn’t be any better prepared.”
The only Stars player whose availability is not guaranteed is leg-spinner Kristen Beams, who is yet to prove she has overcome the calf injury she suffered in the Test earlier this month.
England won all three Twenty20s in the last series. The Stars have won their past three against England, including in the final of the 2014 World Twenty20.
The Stars’ streak of 16 wins is nearing England’s record of being unbeaten in 20 consecutive matches, between June 2011 and September 2012.
ENGLAND (from): Charlotte Edwards (c), Heather Knight (vc), Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Lydia Greenway, Rebecca Grundy, Jenny Gunn, Dani Hazell, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Lauren Winfield, Danni Wyatt.
SOUTHERN STARS (from): Meg Lanning (c), Alex Blackwell (vc), Kristen Beams, Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Rene Farrell, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani.
The reporter is covering the Women’s Ashes with the support of Cricket Australia