Australia will start their summer of international cricket with a T20I series against neighbours New Zealand, a side that they take pleasure beating home and away. This series is more about preparation for bigger things to come.
That isn’t to say that they will take New Zealand lightly. Australia hasn’t played since March on their tour of India. While some of the squad took part in the Kia Super League others took the chance to rest. Among those resting was Ellyse Perry.
The role that Perry has performed for Australia has changed. Where she was seen as important with bat and ball in recent years, her batting has taken over. While her strike-rate with the bat lends itself to the longer formats she never the less scores her fair share of runs. This allows a number of bigger hitters to play around her.
Meg Lanning is still considered one of the best batters in the world despite having missed the last Australian winter because of shoulder surgery. If Australia is to win this series and the ICC World T20 in the next couple of months not only will her batting be crucial but her captaincy also.
When fit, Ashleigh Gardner has the potential to be as destructive all-rounder in world cricket. She is not afraid to take on the short ball despite regular time-off due to the concussion, it shows her fearless approach to her cricket.
Megan Schutt is a born competitor and her opening bowling usually puts opponents on the back-foot. Early inroads will be important, especially considering the strength of the New Zealand top-order.
Australia has arguably the best batting line up of any team in the world at the moment. The biggest problem is where to best position to play each of them. There are at least five players that can open the batting as Rachael Haynes showed for Loughborough Lightning.
It must have come as a relief to the Australian hierarchy just how well Elyse Villani adapted to the finisher role during the KSL. Beth Mooney will no doubt open but who it will be with will be interesting.
There aren’t many weaknesses when it comes to any Australian side. If you were to pick on one thing to will probably the bowling. After Schutt, Nicola Carey and Delissa Kimmince, they don’t have many options in the pace bowling department. Much of the early promise that Perry had doesn’t take the wickets that at one time she would have.
Kimmince has a good record in T20 cricket but had a disastrous Kia Super League. If she can regain some form it will be important to Australia’s chances.
Tayla Vlaeminck is a promising bowler who should make her debut and has impressed on the Australia under-19 tour of South Africa.
Australia doesn’t have a great record in T20 games against New Zealand. As captain, Meg Lanning has only won 2 of her 10 games against the team from across the Tasman Sea.
With the ICC World T20 coming up the importance of this series may not necessarily be about results or even individual performances but ensuring they are ready to take on the world’s best in the Caribbean.