Australia come into the ODI series on the back of some excellent form. © Getty Images

Match Preview: 1st ODI— West Indies v Australia

Date: 5 September 2019

Venue: Coolidge Cricket Ground, Antigua

Following their Ashes triumph last month in which they blanked England 12-4 across the multi-format series, Australia will face West Indies in a six-match bi-lateral series including three ODIs and three T20Is. It will be the first time the tourists travel to Caribbean for a bi-lateral series since the 1970s when they played a two-match Test series.

The ODI series— consisting of six ICC ODI Championship points— will begin at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Thursday (September 5).

Heading into the series, Australia are firm favourites. Currently second on the Championship table with 11 wins out of 12— their only loss coming against England in the opening round of the championship in 2017— Australia are only two points behind England with six games in hand. Their form since the 2017 Women’s World Cup in England has been phenomenal as they have lost only three matches across formats since the start of 2018. An ODI series whitewash will see the visitors secure a place in the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.

Australia head into the series with two uncapped players. They have filled their squad with allrounders, in preparation for the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 at home. Heather Graham and Erin Burns have earned their maiden call ups on the back of impressive performances for Australia A and in the Women’s Big Bash League last season. They give the squad a great deal of depth, adding to an already long line up of allrounders that includes Ellyse Perry, Delissa Kimmince, Jess Jonassen, Ashleigh Gardner and Nicola Carey.

The absence of Nicole Bolton— who was unavailable for selection— means that Australia will have to tinker with their batting order. Either Rachael Haynes or Beth Mooney will shift up the order while the rest all shift one place up. This could provide the likes of Gardner more of an opportunity to showcase her skills with the bat— something the right-hander is looking forward to.

The last time these two teams met was in the semi-final of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2018 where Australia completed a convincing 71-run victory over the hosts. Meg Lanning’s charges went on the win the tournament— Gardner playing an important role in the final. 

In stark contrast to Australia, West Indies are languishing at seventh on the table, with 11 points in 15 matches. Their form in ODIs has been patchy at best, and their current squad is severely hit by injuries. Deandra Dottin, Shakera Selman, Chedean Nation, Shemaine Campbelle and Kyshona Knight are all nursing injuries. However, this has thrown up an opportunity for the return of Anisa Mohammed, the veteran off-spinner.

Although the odds are stacked against them, the hosts will be desperate to put in good performances to challenge  Australia and keep their hopes of direct qualification to New Zealand alive.

West Indies have only ever beaten Australia in an ODI once— during a Super Six match in the 2013 World Cup in India— but none of those matches have been played at home. Thursday will see both teams clash in their first even ODI in the Caribbean.

During the T20 World Cup last year, West Indies drew a great deal of energy and inspiration from the home crowd. While such a large attendance may not be expected for these games, the hosts are certain to bank a little bit on the atmosphere created by their supporters. They will need all the help they can get!

 

Key Players:

Stafanie Taylor

Fresh off the back of a successful stint with the Southern Vipers in the Women’s Cricket Super League, Stafanie Taylor will no doubt play a key role in her team’s chances of overcoming Australia. Captain of the team, and one of the world’s leading allrounders, Taylor is in wonderful form with the bat. A versatile batter, she has the ability to both hold the innings together and also accelerate towards the end. Her experience of having played several years in the Women’s Big Bash League— consistently facing the Australian bowlers— will hold her in good stead.

Aside from her contributions with the bat, Taylor’s off-spin is also one of the main factors in West Indies’ success. Not only does she provide balance to the team with her allround ability, but also has the ability to dry up the runs with some smart bowling.

Megan Schutt 

Ranked the no.1 ODI bowler in the world, Megan Schutt is one of Australia’s key weapons with the new ball. The fast bowler— one of the most intelligent going around— is known for her ability to swing the new ball around corners. However, of late, one of Schutt’s main weapons has been the ball that holds its line.

Schutt’s continued search for improvement means she has developed into one of Australia’s premier bowlers— useful at any stage of the innings. With the new ball, she can swing it big, in the middle overs she uses cutters and off pace deliveries, while at the death she bowls a decent yorker. All together it is quite a lethal combine. Schutt’s ODI record against West Indies is quite impressive— six matches with 11 wickets at an average of 18 and strike rate of 24.4. These numbers are significantly less than her career numbers where her average reads 23.10 and strike rate at 32.3.

West Indies will no doubt be wary of Schutt and all the tricks she has up her sleeve.

 

Conditions:

The first ODI of the series will be played at Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua. The Australian team have fond memories of the island of Antigua having clinched last year’s Women’s T20 World Cup at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound.

The ground is also known as the ‘Sticky Wicket Ground’, meaning that the pitch may be a little two-paced and thus slightly difficult to bat on. The team winning the toss will likely look to bowl first and wait for conditions to improve through the day.

 

Squads:

West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (Captain), Hayley Matthews (Vice-Captain), Reniece Boyce, Afy Fletcher, Chinelle Henry, Shamilia Connell, Stacy Ann King, Natasha McLean, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Anisa Mohammed, Karishma Ramharack and Shabika Gajnabi.

Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Heather Graham, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham.

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