Let me state the bleeding obvious straight up. It’s the Test in the Ashes series that creates a buzz like no other match for the players.
The emotions will be different for every player. From Australian games record holder, Alex Blackwell, who will celebrate her 200th game in the green and gold tomorrow to what will be a debut test for at least one, most likely more, Australian players. A Baggygreen presentation to kick start the day will add to the drama.
It’s a mixed bag of feelings right throughout the 4 days. It’s nerves, anticipation and excitement the night before. It’s combative, fierce and enjoyably draining during it. Post match it’s humbling and hopefully for Australia victorious. It’s a moment in your cricket career like no other and for very good reason.
So while the Southern Stars and England players settle down for the night to try and keep things in check I thought I’d run over 4 key areas that I think will influence this test;
PACE OF THE GAME:
There are 12 session to be won….or lost. And of those 12 there will be a handful of crucial sessions that will swing the momentum of the test and ultimately win it for one side. A lot of the big moments will, in my mind, come down to the side who can dictate the pace of the sessions for as long as possible, and when needed, shift the game to another gear in their control. This remember can either be up or down depending on what’s required.
Teams who can stick to game plans for extended periods and teams with players who have various dimensions to their game and know when to shift gears are in the box seat. When I think of players who can do this Lanning, Perry, Healy and Jonassen spring to mind with bat and ball for Australia and this out numbers and outweighs England’s trio of Brunt, Edwards and Taylor. Don’t get me wrong others can and will most likely pop up however the Aussie win this context in my books.
Please have something in it!! A flat deck could still produce a result but with limited tests matches played it would be great to provide a fair go for all players and as the first televised women’s test match it would be great to see an even contest between bat & ball over 4 full days.
Hopefully it’s not too much to ask for a pitch that provides something in it day one the quicks early on but if the top order play well can capitalise. A pitch that if you can get yourself in you can score but lapses in concentration will hurt you. And a deck that spin comes into play particularly at the back end. That’s not being too greedy is it?
Also keep in mind that the ground at Canterbury has a significant slope similar to Lords. Batters, bowlers and fielders alike will need to adjust and captains will need to factor this into plans.
Speaking of plans, this could well be one of the most crucial factors and enter stage left, new Aussie coach, Matthew Mott.
Mott’s knowledge of Sheffield Shield, County & International cricket over the longer formats will provide additional support and guidance for Lanning and Blackwell as they lead the Southern Stars out over the next four days.
Australian domestic cricket hasn’t seen two day cricket for over 20 years at a state level. The shorter formats ruling fixtures and mindsets meaning an adjustment not only in the players approach to their skill sets but also to the leaders tactics.
Both teams will come out with an attacking approach. The Aussie’s as it’s a natural style for them, the English as they need the points. Juggling this with reading the game and adjusting appropriately will play a huge role.
Playing to get into a test side is a completely different ball game to playing in it with a prized trophy on the line! And as the old saying goes ‘perception is reality’. So when it comes down to the crunch and the knowledge of a how important this result is to England to stay in touch in the series, we’ll see the true metal of a team and individual players.
This is almost the most exciting element leading into tomorrow and as we all know pressure makes diamonds!
So predictions in the test is always tough but my gut and head says the Aussie’s have to many trump cards.
Game kicks off at 11am and you can follow it on;
Sky Sport TV (UK & NZ)
BBC – 5 Live
Southern Stars Twitter – @southernstars