There is no doubt about it.
The Australian Women’s Cricket team have now taken a 4-0 lead in the Ashes with a comprehensive four-wicket win over England in the second ODI, following their two-wicket win in the first ODI on Tuesday.
So what have been the biggest talking points so far?
Australia’s openers revealed
Heading into the Ashes series, my biggest question was who coach Matthew Mott would select as his openers, given that there are at least four women who could open the batting in Australia’s squad, including Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney and Nicole Bolton.
There was further intrigue when, in one of the practice matches, it was Elyse Villani who joined Healy at the crease to begin the game.
For the ODIs, it has been Bolton opening the batting joined by Healy. Bolton has found herself back in the Aussie team after taking some time away from the game to focus on some personal issues.
Healy scored 66 in the first ODI and nine in the second. Bolton still hasn’t quite found her feet yet, scoring two in the first match and one in the second.
While Mott may stick with Bolton in the third ODI for consistency, the next question is who will open the batting for Australia in the Test? The Aussie women rarely get the opportunity to play Test matches at the international level. In fact, the last time they did so was the last Ashes series in 2017 on Aussie shores.
I expect we will see Healy there, potentially with Haynes.
It’s time to bring in DRS for the women’s game
One of the biggest talking points following the first ODI was the availability of the Decision Review System in the women’s game following the dismissal of Fran Wilson by Jess Jonassen in the 12th over. Her dismissal came at a crucial point in the game.
Wilson had just hit three boundaries and was on 21, when she was given out lbw. She looked visibly confused when she was given out and replays showed she was hit on the gloves. Unfortunately, without an opportunity to have the decision reviewed, the umpire’s decision stood.
Have we not come to a point in the women’s game where DRS should be used if the technology is available? What is the impediment? Is it cost?
At the moment, DRS is rare in the women’s format. It was used for the first time at the 2017 World Cup (only for television matches) and then in the 2018 T20 World Cup, it was available for all the games given they were all broadcast.
At the moment, the ICC playing conditions for women still make the use of DRS discretionary. It is at the discretion of participating boards to employ DRS for an ODI; a similar position to what exists in the men’s game.
Given the Women’s Ashes is being televised and is a significant contest between two of the best cricket nations in the world, surely this would have been a good opportunity to use it.
Australia are dynamite with bat in hand and with ball in hand
One of my favourite things about this squad is just how talented they are both batting and in the field. The first two ODIs have demonstrated this, with the heroine in the first ODI being Ellyse Perry, who took three key wickets, ending with figures of 3/43. She took the wickets of Amy Jones (0), Tammy Beaumont (16) and Heather Knight for a duck.
Megan Schutt was also impressive in that first ODI, taking the wickets of Sarah Taylor (1) and Kate Cross (1), finishing on figures of 2/19.
Haynes also took a brilliant catch in this game to dismiss Anya Shrubsole.
Perry continued her good form into the second ODI, top-scoring for Australia with 62 runs. But it was Delissa Kimmince who stole the show in that game, claiming her maiden international five-for, claiming the wickets of Natalie Sciver (15), Katherine Brunt (11), Shrubsole (12), Sophie Ecclestone (4) and Laura Marsh (2). Impressively, Kimmince managed to take four wickets in nine deliveries to end the English innings on 217 in 47.3 overs.
I wonder who will shine for Australia in the third ODI and whether Kimmince will have a chat with Meg Lanning about when she bowls her first over, as when she bowls her first over she will be on a hat-trick ball.
Celebrate your wickets – with caution
Potentially the biggest lesson so far has been to ensure that if you are a cricketer, you take care when celebrating. After celebrating her 34th birthday on the day of the first ODI, Katherine Brunt was visibly excited when she took the key wicket of Meg Lanning for 16 runs.
Unfortunately, during her celebration, Katherine rolled her ankle and had to spend some time on the sidelines. Katherine did come back to bowl later in the match but it is still unclear whether she will be fit for the third ODI – which commences at 8pm (AEST) on Sunday night.
England will also await news on their lightning-quick wicket keeper Sarah Taylor who missed the second ODI with a niggling ankle injury.
Following the third ODI, the next part of the Ashes multi-format series will be a Test match, with four points up for grabs for the winning team.