After the second and third T20s were washed out at the Adelaide Oval, the women’s Ashes remains very much in the balance heading into the standalone Test match. Both sides will be desperate to collect the valuable four points on offer, but who will come out on top? Read on for our full Australia vs England Test preview and prediction:
Australia vs England Test Preview and Prediction
Series So Far
England got off to a better start in the T20 than the men’s side did in any of the five Test matches they played, posting an opening partnership of 82. They seemed to be well-set to press on as a result, and did just that only for two perfectly timed strikes from Tahlia McGrath in the 17th over to derail their attempts to accelerate at the death. The result was that they finished on 169, a score that was slightly under par and made to look worse by an excellent display of power hitting by the Australian top-order.
Alyssa Healy fell early, having made seven off nine balls, which brought McGrath to the crease. She did not take long to get away, hammering 91 off just 49 deliveries, with captain Meg Lanning, promoted to the top of the order in Beth Mooney’s absence, providing able assistance with a well-made 64 off 44 as Australia chased down the total comfortably. Unfortunately, there has been very little cricket since, with the second match washed out after less than five overs and third abandoned entirely.
Mooney, who fractured her jaw in the nets ahead of the T20s, is in line for a possible return to action, despite having had surgery barely a week ago. If she does, she may well open the batting alongside Alyssa Healy. Rachael Haynes is also an option at the top of the order for Australia, but she has enjoyed better returns in the middle order. Captain Lanning should return to her usual place at number three either way, with all-rounder Ellyse Perry at four after she missed the T20 series.
There were concerns over Perry’s suitability for the shortest format, but she has excelled with the red ball, averaging over 85. McGrath will be looking to repeat her heroics in the Australia’s sole innings of the series so far from five, with Ashleigh Gardner the likeliest option at six after a 50 in Australia’s last Test. Annabel Sutherland is another seam-bowling all-rounder, with Jess Jonassen to return as the frontline spinner. Darcie Brown and Megan Schutt will likely lead the seam attack. Tayla Vlaeminck is out for the rest of the Ashes with Stella Campbell an option to replace her.
Lauren Winfield-Hill played no part in the T20 series but should return at the top of the order for the Tests. Expect her to partner Tammy Beaumont. Captain Heather Knight will mirror her counterpart Lanning and bat at three with all-rounder Nat Sciver in at four. Keeper-batter Amy Jones will bat at five and be hoping for an improvement on her last outing in this format when she was dismissed for one. Sophia Dunkley, by way of contrast, excelled with 74 not out on her Test-match debut at six.
Charlie Dean or Sophie Ecclestone provide another spin-bowling option as well as potentially handy lower-order runs. Katharine Brunt will lead the attack in what may well be her final Test, and almost certainly will be her last Test on Australian soil. She will be supported in the seam-bowling department by Anya Shrubsole, Kate Cross and Freya Davies. They were collectively outshone by the spinners in England’s last Test and will be hoping to improve on that against England’s oldest rival.
England’s last Test match against India was a thriller, as well as a timely advert from bringing women’s Test cricket in line with the men’s game by extending it to five days. The format already suffers badly from the lack of any sort of first-class structure to support it, and being shorn of a fifth day leads to far too many draws. In fact, there hasn’t been a ‘result’ in this format since Australia beat England by 161 in Canterbury in 2015. England haven’t won a match since the 2013-14 Ashes.
That suggests that by far the most likely outcome for this match is another draw. But if there is to be a winner, the likelier of the two teams looks to be Australia. Both teams are rather undercooked in terms of time in the middle, but Australia have the advantage of playing in home conditions and, frankly, a superior batting line-up. At least on paper. England should be more competitive than the men’s team, but don’t expect the long wait for an English Test win on Australian soil to end here.
Prediction: Australia win.
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