After a grueling start to their tour of England, Meg Lanning’s Australian team finally earned a day off ahead of their three-day warm up match against England Academy in Marlborough College beginning on Thursday (July 11).
“The Test is a long way off in terms of what we’ve been through, we’ve had three highly charged (ODIs) first up and on a tour like this, you can’t be on the whole time,” Matthew Mott, Australia’s head coach, told cricket.com.au on Wednesday (July 10). “You need to pick periods to where you need some downtime and refresh. So a day where they’re not thinking about cricket will be good, a few went to Wimbledon and a few might play golf, it’s a day to recharge.”
This approach comes as a breath of fresh air in an era where preparation— especially for the unknown— is always intense, and often overdone.
Having demolished the hosts in the ODI-leg of the multi-format Ashes series, Australia will now go into a format which they last played two years ago. Of their 15-member squad, six have no experience playing Test cricket, but Mott is not worried that his team will be under-prepared for next week’s challenge in Taunton.
“We got a lot out of the last three games and in a way, it’s almost like we’ve earned the opportunity to have a day off,” Mott said. “It doesn’t mean we’re taking the foot off, but we’ve earned the opportunity because we’ve got three solid games in, if we’d got a washout and if we didn’t have access to nets during the (warm-up) game it would have looked different as well.”
With a six-point lead, the visitors are now looking to close out the series. A draw (worth two points) will effectively end England’s chances of coming back into the series, but Australia want to take the more aggressive option, as is their ‘culture’.
Having called up Sophie Molineux, Australia now have five spin options in their squad, to go with five pace option as well. It is a problem of plenty that they have with their opening batting options as well— with Nicole Bolton, Beth Mooney, Alyssa Healy and Elyse Villani all equipped to bat at the top.
The warm-up game will allow Mott to test out various possibilities and arrive at a combination that will give Australia the desired result.
“We’ve got a lot of hard questions to ask ourselves and it (the warm-up fixture) is a big game for a few players to show us what they’ve got,” Mott said. “The balance of the team will be interesting to see what we go with, we’re very keen to win the Test, we don’t want to go in with an attitude of drawing it, so we need a team capable of taking 20 wickets. We’re really excited so see what this three-day game will throw up, because that will help strengthen our final XI.”
Squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham