England and Australia are set to cross swords for the Women’s Ashes starting from October 22. The 2017 leg of the Ashes will be hosted by Australia. The winner will be decided by a multi-format points system. The teams will battle it out over three ODIs, three T20s and a one-off Test. Two points will be awarded for every win in the ODIs and the T20s while four points will be awarded for a Test win. In case of a draw in the Test, both teams will garner two points. The single Test, to be played at North Sydney Oval, will be a historic one as it will be the first ever day-night test in women’s cricket.
The day-night test will feature a pink ball instead of the customary red ball. The pink ball is designed for visibility even in the night conditions. This factor will add an extra layer of intrigue to the series. The players’ mettle will be tested with the pink ball under lights. The ball has been observed to swing more under lights. The main purpose of the day-night Test, however, is to draw in the working crowds, both to the television and to the ground. This should provide a further boost to women’s cricket which is already on the upswing after the sell-out 2017 ODI World Cup final at Lords.
A three-day pink ball practice match in Canberra in November will serve as an audition of sorts for Australia to whittle down its 15-woman squad down to 13.
While pink ball cricket has already made its debut in the men’s game, we can trace its early development in women’s cricket history. The pink ball made its first appearance at a cancer charity event in 2007. Later in January 2008, the two women’s state teams, Queensland and Western Australia, made history by playing the first ever pink ball cricket match. Coincidentally, the two traditional Ashes rivals were also involved in another pink-ball first. On July 5, 2009, the fourth women’s ODI between England and Australia at Wormsley became the first international match to use the pink ball. Not just content with this record, the game also turned out to be an absolute thriller. Sarah Taylor, Katherine Brunt, Jenny Gunn and Laura Marsh from the current England Ashes squad, and Alex Blackwell and Ellyse Perry from the current Australian Ashes squad played
in the historic match.
England were leading the series by 3-0. The pink ball was used as a part of the Breast Cancer Campaign for the fourth ODI. Australia got off to a disastrous start with 0 for 2. Katherine Brunt was the bowler in question with two wickets off two balls. Shelly Nitschker, who won the Player of the Match award for her 71 off 106 balls, and Karen Rolton steadied the Australian innings to set a respectable target of 226. England began decently but were soon reduced to 78 for three. Captain Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway brought calm to the dressing rooms once again by scoring half-centuries each. But two quick wickets and Australia were once again in the game. When Greenway fell with the score 202, it looked like Australia would prevail with England having only three wickets in hand and 24 runs to get. Katherine Brunt fell when the score was 209 adding to England’s misery. However Laura Marsh and Holly Colvin held their nerves till the last ball to guide England home to a 4-0 lead. The English players would be hoping to replicate this 2009 pink ball success in the day-night Test. Whichever teams wins, fans of the game would be looking forward for a similarly thrilling encounter.