Jess Jonassen gave Australia the crucial breakthrough. ©Getty Images
The final match of the T20 may be a dead rubber, but for Australia it is a chance to go undefeated and join the incredible teams led by Belinda Clark in 1998 and 2001 as the only Australian women’s teams to go through a tour of England, undefeated.
Few would have boldly predicted this rather one-sided result in favour of Australia. The 2019 Ashes series was meant to be one of most tightly contested series yet: England were the one-day World Cup holders while Australia are T20 World Cup holders. England’s meek show over the course of the series has left even the Australians surprised.

“It’s pretty special,” said Jess Jonassen on her team’s 12-2 lead in the series. “I know it’s something that we’ve spoken about— in terms of finishing series well as a group. I think hopefully to go through undefeated would be special. I know there’s been some pretty quality sides that have over the years managed to do that, so to be one of those would be really special.”

“I know that Alyssa Healy jokingly said in an article that we could potentially go undefeated this series. For it to actually be on the cards is not something I think, not only myself, but a lot of the girls didn’t think was going to unfold. In saying that we’re really pleased with the cricket that we’ve played (but) still one more job to do.”

Each and every member of the team has put their hands up whenever the team has required. This Australian team have not let the intensity drop one bit, be it with bat, ball or in the field. There is no over reliance on an individual. In the ODIs it was Ellyse Perry, Beth Mooney, Jess Jonassen, Alyssa Healy and Georgia Wareham who were the chief contributors. Come the Test and T20Is it was the turn of Meg Lanning, Sophie Molinuex and Rachel Haynes to deliver.

Jonassen says the consistency in the group and their performances comes down to a clarity of roles – something that all her teammates have spoken about through the course of the series.

 “I guess just a lot more clarity around individuals’ roles in the side. I think that allows players to have some freedom about how they go about their business. (It) also allows that consistency with people’s performances as well, and I think that’s sort of what’s been a real positive for us over the last few years is that players have been able to perform consistently across long periods of time.”

Jonassen has had a series to remember with both bat and ball. With the bat her useful contributions in the ODIs, helped get Australia over the line in a couple of tricky run chases. With the ball, she has played the role of attacking and containing spinner to perfection.

Having been benched through the entire 2018 World T20, the left-arm spinner returned home and put in an extensive amount of work with Shelley Nitschke, Australia’s assistant coach. Her rewards through this series are a result of that work.

“I was really happy with the last game,” she said. “I felt very comfortable out there. I’ve put in a lot of work with Shelley back home in the off season, and it’s nice to see that some performances have managed to come from that. Hopefully I can do that one more time and looking forward to getting home for a little while.”

Having wrapped up the T20I series, the question remains whether Australia will tinker with their combination and give one of Nicola Carey or Elyse Villani – neither of whom have played a single game on tour – a go in Bristol.

“I wouldn’t know, to be honest. I think it’s probably been one of the hardest series for the selectors to pick a side from game to game. I think as well when the team’s doing well it’s pretty difficult when you’ve also got some world class players on the sidelines that are missing out and who’d give anything out there to be on the field and… If we could have 15 players out there I’m sure we would jump at the opportunity.”

Whatever happens in the final match, Australia have put down a marker for the rest of the world. They are miles ahead in terms of skill, tactics, intensity and professionalism. It is now for the rest to catch up.

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