MELBOURNE: England’s women will hope to build on the success of their World Cup triumph and wrest back the Ashes from an Australian side shorn of talismanic captain Meg Lanning.
The all-formats tournament kicks off with a one-day international in Brisbane on Sunday and promises to be more than a curtain-raiser for the five-test men’s series that begins in November.
England, captained by Heather Knight, are seeking revenge after being humbled on home soil in the previous series in 2015, while Australia are desperate to make amends for their surprise World Cup semi-final exit in July.
“We’ve got over (the World Cup) now,” Australia pace bowler Megan Schutt told reporters this week.
”We’ve learnt from the mistakes that were made over there and dealt with the personal issues that came with that.
“We’ve really worked hard at getting over that speed bump.”
Rachael Haynes has been named skipper of Australia in place of Lanning and will be under pressure to get the better of Knight, who replaced Charlotte Edwards last year and was a cool head during the World Cup on home soil.
Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry again looms as a huge threat to England’s hopes of victory after being player of the series in the past two Ashes campaigns.
She enters the tournament off the back of an outstanding World Cup where she amassed 404 runs and took nine wickets.
England will lean on their formidable attack of seamers Anya Shrubsole, Katherine Brunt and young spinner Sophie Ecclestone to thwart Perry and the Australian batswomen.
After opening with three ODIs, the teams play a day-night test in Sydney before finishing off with three Twenty20 matches.
The limited overs matches are worth two points for a win, with victory in the test worth four.
Women’s cricket has gone from strength to strength since the last Ashes two years ago, as witnessed by the sell-out crowd that saw England defeat India by nine runs in the World Cup final at Lord‘s.
Organisers decided to limit capacity at Brisbane’s Allan Border field to only 2,000 for Sunday’s opener, but the tickets were sold out three weeks in advance.
“The interest in women’s sport is at an all-time high,” Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said.