After bulldozing the hosts in the ODI series, Australia have taken a six point lead in the multi-format Ashes series. They are now only one win (or Test match draw) away from retaining the wooden ball. However, the visitors insist that they don’t have their eye on the finish line just yet.
“I think we will try not to get too ahead of ourselves,” said Beth Mooney, after Australia’s first training session at Marlborough College on Tuesday (July 9). “Obviously there is lot that can happen in a four-day game, but the carrot that’s dangling in front of us means that we’ll go really hard early doors and make sure we get ahead as much as we can, as early as we can in the Test.”
Having played their last Test match in 2017, Australia now have 10 days to prepare for the format. Starting Friday (July 12) they will be playing a three-day practice match against England Academy. It will be an opportunity for the side not only to adjust their tactics and test their skills, but also finalise their playing combinations.
“It’s nice to have a warm up game, but I think in terms of one day cricket to test cricket we wont change a whole lot to the way we play. Obviously, we play an attacking brand of cricket naturally, so we wont shy too much away from that. I think everyone is looking forward to batting some time, bowling some times, and take some wickets too. For us it’s really exciting times.”
“For me personally… As I said, not too dissimilar to one day cricket obviously. If I get a go in this test match, I think I would be either in the middle order or opening. We have some world class players in the side that could open, but only two of us can do it. We will see what happens.”
With conditions in Taunton expected to be dry and assist the spinners, Australia have called up Sophie Molineux, the left-arm spinner, to their squad for the one-off Test. She joins an already strong spin group of Jess Jonassen, Georgia Wareham and Ashleigh Gardner.
“I think it’s a wonderful addition to our squad,” said Mooney. “I think she has done exceptionally well in the short international career she has had. She throws a lot of banter around the group and has a great time. It’s just really nice to see her back amongst the group after she obviously had shoulder surgery. She has ticked all the boxes she can and I hope she can put the hand up for test match.”
While Molineux’s call up hints at a spin-heavy attack for Australia, Mooney was unwilling to give anything away.
“I think there’s a bit of chat around that (conditions suiting spin). We have played a few games at Taunton in the past. I have played a couple of games over there in the KSL too. The wicket’s generally pretty good, but if it’s dry it will take a bit more turn. We obviously got some really good options there— pace bowling and spin— so once we get closer to D-day they (the management) will obviously have a look at that wicket and then make a decision.”
With the lure of the Baggy Green pulling them on, and one eye on wrapping up the series, Australia are determined to “do justice” to a format that they yearn to play more often.
“It’s just a really important time for us to make sure that when we do put on the whites, we do it justice. Obviously we don’t play many Test matches, and we’d like to play a few more, so we know we’ve got a job to do in making sure that it’s of high quality.”