Australia have been dealt a seismic blow with an injured right foot ruling Tayla Vlaeminck out of the Ashes and a second straight World Cup.
It’s scary to think where the current Australian Test cricket team is at five months out from the Ashes, with the middle order unknown and experienced players lacking the runs under the belt.
However, Cricket Australia has made one of its smartest decisions in recent memory, moving the domestic season forward to allow players to come into the international summer in form.
The Sheffield Shield competition will begin in September for only the second time in its 129-year history due to Australia’s defence of the urn beginning in early December in Brisbane.
With many of Australia’s superstars either taking the winter off due to scepticism surrounding COVID-19 or injury, the choice to start the season early offers a chance for them to reach their peak before England bowl a ball.
After a demoralising previous summer against India, where Australia’s lack of batting depth was exposed, it is crucial that they select players who are red hot. The six Shield games for each state that will be played before the first Test will be a trial for many batsmen who dream of representing Australia.
An area of the team up for grabs is the middle order, which has lacked consistent individuals for a few years.
Players such as Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh and Matthew Wade have been in and out due to inconsistency, which has reflected Australia’s sporadic performances.
The Sheffield Shield could either provide the opportunity for players such as these to redeem themselves or for new blood to be brought into the squad. Western Australia’s Cameron Green is suring up to bat at number six against England but there is a chance for other players to steal his spot.
But what this change in cricketing calendar most importantly offers is an opportunity for emerging players to test their ability against some of the country’s incumbents.
Over the last decade in particular, the international season has run over the domestic season, meaning current Test cricketers didn’t play many state matches.
With a three-month window for this to occur, young players will either play with or against world-class cricketers. Through doing so you’d have to believe they would learn some vital lessons and strengthen the next crop.
Could this early start be Australia’s selection saviour or could it pose as a window for more injuries?